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What to Expect During Port Placement & Bone Marrow Biopsy for Cancer

Portacath for Hodgkins

Frequently asked questions regarding my implanted port:

What is an implanted port? An implanted port, also called a port-a-cath, is a small, flexible plastic tube inserted into a vein in your chest or arm. It is used instead of an IV to make chemotherapy treatments and blood draws more convenient. Additionally, it can help minimize certain side effects caused by chemotherapy. The central vein, where the port is placed, has better blood flow compared to the veins in the arms or hands, which lowers the risk of inflammation.

Why did you choose to get a port? A port is a device that keeps your veins safe from harm caused by frequent needle use. It also makes it more convenient for healthcare providers to take blood samples and administer medication.

How is a port inserted? A doctor in Interventional Radiology will surgically insert the port in the operating room. In my case, the port was placed under my right collarbone in my chest's middle area. The chest and neck are numbed using local anesthesia, and you might also require general anesthesia for the port placement procedure. The doctor will create a small cut at the bottom of your neck and chest to create a space under your skin.

What should I expect on surgery day? First, you will be asked to put on a hospital gown. A member of the imaging staff will then explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. You will also be given a small tube to receive fluids and medication that will help you relax during the procedure. After that, you will need to lie on a special table. You will remain awake while the port is being inserted. However, some individuals prefer to have the port inserted while they are asleep during their bone marrow biopsy. To numb the area, a local anesthetic will be injected into your chest region. 

Does it hurt? During the procedure, you may just feel some minor discomfort or pain. The level of pain varies from person to person, but when I had it done, I didn't find it painful. Afterward, you might feel some tenderness and see bruising.

Stel Bailey Hodgkins Lymphoma Cancer

Can you feel the port? Yes, the port is a little raised under the skin, forming a triangle or circle shape known as the septum. Additionally, you might be able to feel a wire-like tube called the catheter in the neck.

How do they access the port? The nurse puts a needle into a small opening in your chest, called a port, by going through your skin. To make it less painful, there are special creams available that can numb the area.

How long did you have your port? You can keep the port in place while receiving IV treatment as long as it functions properly and does not show any signs of infection. Personally, I had my port for ten months.

How is your port removed? Removing the port is like inserting it, but faster. The doctor numbs the area, makes a cut, and removes the port.

Are there any issues that can come from having a port? If you experience more pain, swelling, or a larger bruise in the area, if pus or fluid is coming out from the cut, or if you notice redness, irritation, fever, and chills, it is important to get in touch with your doctor.

Stel Christel Bailey

Frequently asked questions regarding my bone marrow biopsy:

What is a bone marrow biopsy? A bone marrow biopsy is a procedure to take out a spongy tissue called marrow from the bone. This tissue produces a majority of the body's blood cells. This examination is employed to identify leukemia, infections, certain forms of anemia, and other blood disorders. It can also assist in assessing if cancer has spread or how it has reacted to the treatment.

How is a bone biopsy taken? The process involves using a hollow needle to enter the bone. Then, the tissue inside the bone marrow is taken out, sent to a laboratory, and examined through a microscope.

Where is the bone biopsy taken from? You can get it from different parts of the body, such as the hip bone, chest bone, leg bone, or spine bone.

Do I need a bone marrow biopsy? If your doctor suspects that you may have a condition affecting your blood cells, like unexplained anemia, an unusual amount of blood cells, iron deficiency, blood cancer (leukemia or lymphoma), or cancer that has spread to the bone marrow, they will suggest that you undergo a bone marrow biopsy. This procedure is necessary to gather information that will assist them in accurately diagnosing and treating you.

What should I expect on surgery day? You will be required to wear a gown and be given a sedative to help you relax. Your positioning will depend on the bone being targeted for the procedure. It is crucial that you remain motionless during the procedure. Before the biopsy, an anesthetic will be injected to numb the specific area. Subsequently, a small incision will be made at the site, followed by the insertion of the biopsy needle into the bone and its marrow.

Does it hurt? Feeling pressure is normal when the needle goes into your bone. You may feel a pulling sensation when the marrow is taken out. Some people have experienced pain, but it goes away quickly and usually depends on how long and difficult the biopsy is.