Home > Patient Educational Videos > Radiology - What is a Port (Port-a-Cath)?

What is PortaCath?

port (or portacath) is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Under the skin, the port has an opening through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times, usually with less discomfort for the patient than a more typical "needle stick".    Drugs used for chemotherapy are often toxic, and can damage skin, muscle tissue, and sometimes veins. They often need to be delivered into large central vein where the drugs are immediately diluted by blood stream and delivered efficiently to the entire body. Cancer patients also require frequent blood tests to monitor their treatments. For patient with difficult veins, it can be used for withdrawing blood for blood tests. 

The port is usually inserted in the upper chest, just below the clavicle or collar bone, leaving the patient's hands free.

How is a portacath implanted?

The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, with the aid of imaging guidance (ultrasound and X-ray) in the angiography suite of radiology department. The actual procedure takes less than an hour. An intravenous sedation is given to make the local anaethetic injection less painful. There will be a skin incision 3cm long on the chest wall for the port pocket and a 5mm incision in the lower neck to enter the vein. Absorbable sutures are used for the chest wound and are buried under the skin. For the small neck wound, sutures are usually not required and the wound is closed with Steristrips (medical sticky tape). 

Typically you can go home two hours following the procedure, when you have recovered from the sedation. You should arrange someone to take you home, as you are not allowed to drive or operating machinery for 24 hours. 

What preparation is required?

You need to avoid solid food from midnight. Clear fluid and medications are allowed up to the time of procedure. If your are on aspirin, Warfarin or plavix, check with your own doctor if these can be stopped for 5 days. You can resume these medications the day after insertion. Insertion is best delayed if you have active infection. 

What Aftercare is necessary:

For 10 days please keep the wound clean and dry, and avoid strenous activities of the upper limp and chest wall.  If the port is not used within 7 days, you need to return to the doctor who inserted it for wound check and dressing change, otherwise the oncology center will access the port and change the dressing for you.

Here, Dr. Tony Talebi discusses "what is a porta cath?" with Dr. Jason Salsamendi, assistant professor of internventional radiology at the University of Miami.

Dr. Salsamendi credentials:

Assistant Professor Clinical Radiology

Board Certifications
American Board of Radiology-Diagnostic Radiology

Languages Spoken


New York University Medical Center
New York, NY USA
Fellowship - Vascular Interventional2010
Albert Einstein College of Medicine - Jacobi Medical Center
New York, NY USA
Mount Sinai School of Medicine - Queens Hospital Center
New York, NY USA
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Coral Gables, FL USA
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL USA