My Portacath & Bone Marrow Biopsy for Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer



A port (or portacath) is a thin, soft plastic tube installed into a vein (beneath the skin) in your chest or arm. It is used instead of an IV to make chemotherapy and blood draws easier. It can also reduce the risk of specific chemo-caused side effects. There is higher blood flow through the central vein than through an IV in the arms or hands, reducing the vein's inflammation risk. 

A bone marrow biopsy was taken the same day my port was inserted. I was lucky enough to have the IV sedation option, as others have told me they didn't. It was the right choice for me at the time. I couldn't tell you how it is to be awake during these procedures as both were done simultaneously while I was under.  

Once it was finished, I had a plastic triangle piece underneath my chest with a wire-type line that ran up into my neck. You can feel the plastic piece in your chest beneath your skin. This is where they poke a needle instead of putting it in the arm. I preferred getting a port instead of having to get an IV every time I went in for chemotherapy.  

A bone marrow biopsy removes soft tissue, called marrow, from inside the bone. The doctor inserts the biopsy needle (a long scary needle) into the bone. The center of the needle is removed, and the hollowed needle is moved deeper into the bone. This test is used to diagnose leukemia, infections, some types of anemia, and other blood disorders. It may also help determine if cancer has spread or responded to treatment.

Left is an x-ray that shows the metal piece that they insert the needle into for each chemotherapy session. Right is what the portacath looks like out of your body.

I had a reaction to the clear adhesive tape used to cover the wound, so if your neck begins to look like it's burning off, it could be that you're allergic to the tape. I went back to the doctors, and they changed all the dressings and tape. The worst part was my skin was peeling off, and it felt like a burning sensation. 

The bone marrow was taken from my back and since I was under they took numerous samples. I was left with bruising and a needle size hole in the skin. 

Early morning check-in at the Army hospital in Texas as my husband just came home from deployment, and I wanted to be with him during treatments.

Many people do this awake and have various experiences. I'd love to hear about yours in the comments!