COVID-19 Update:Learn more about how we are protecting our patients, families and staff, as well as other important facts about COVID-19.
Pediatric Implantable Venous Port
An implantable venous port is an intravenous (IV) line that is completely inside the body and underneath the skin.
Some medicines cannot be given through peripheral IV lines and some require frequent, painful needle insertions. A port provides a reliable way for a patient to receive IV nutrition and fluids, as well as medications which can be harmful to small blood vessels, such as chemotherapy. A port also allows the medical team to easily obtain blood samples. To give medicines or take blood, we insert a needle through the skin into the port. We usually put numbing cream on the skin, so your child will not feel pain.
An implantable venous port consists of a port reservoir, which is a round piece of plastic with a soft silicone top, and a thin, flexible tube attached to the port called the catheter. Using ultrasound and live X-ray (fluoroscopy) for guidance, the doctor inserts the catheter into an access vein, usually in the neck.
The interventionalist at Children's National Hospital will make a small incision where the port will sit, usually on the upper chest, between the nipple and collarbone. A small pocket will be made for the port to sit in, then the catheter is tunneled upward toward the neck and inserted into the vein, then threaded down so the tip is in the large vessel that leads toward the heart.
No. The procedure will be performed with IV sedation or general anesthesia.
After the procedure, some children may feel discomfort and/or experience mild bruising in the neck or chest area for several days.
Approximately 60 to 90 minutes.
This procedure is considered low risk. However, potential complications include:
- Injury to veins or other surrounding structures
- Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Collapse of the lung (pneumothorax)
Your child will have two bandages, usually one on the side of the neck and one on the chest. After 48 hours, you may remove the bandage from both sites. It is okay to keep the incisions open to air at this point if it is not being used. You will see Dermabond© (a blue skin glue). Do not peel the Dermabond© off or pick at it. The skin glue will fall off on its own, usually within one to two weeks. Once the incision has healed there is no need to place any type of bandage over the port when it is not being used. When the port is being used (needle is in place), the bandage over it must remain in place at all times.
Your child should not shower or take a bath for 48 hours. After the bandages are removed your child may shower but should face away from the spray to keep water off the site. Do not submerge the site in water (bath or pool) until the site is fully healed, which usually takes about one month. When the port is being used (accessed), the site must be kept clean and dry to prevent infection.
Your child will be able to resume most activities after five to seven days, including day care or school and sports or games such as biking or tennis. Your child should be discouraged from activities such as contact sports and rough playing, which may result in damage to the port. If you have questions about which activities are okay, please ask us.
When there is no needle in place, swimming or water activity is allowed once the incisions have fully healed. When a needle is in place, your child may not go swimming or submerge in a bathtub; it is important to keep the site dry to prevent infection.
Your child will be sedated or we will use general anesthesia. After injecting numbing medicine into the skin around the port, we will open the incision near the port, loosen the tissue around it and remove the port. The incision will be closed with dissolvable stitches and glue then covered with a bandage.
After 48 hours, you may remove the bandage. It is okay to keep the incisions open to air at this point if it is not being used. You will see Dermabond© (a blue skin glue). Do not peel the Dermabond© off or pick at it. The skin glue will fall off on its own, usually within one to two weeks.
Your child should not shower or take a bath for 48 hours (two days). After the bandage is removed, your child may shower, but should face away from the spray to keep water off the site, or sponge-bathe around the site. Do not submerge the site in water (bath or pool) until the site is fully healed, which usually takes about one month.
It’s ok for your child to return to their regular activity after 48 hours.
Learn about treatment
Interventional Radiology at Children's National Hospital
Our pediatric interventional radiologists perform a full range of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to both diagnose and treat disease in infants, children and adolescents. Discover more about the treatment we offer.
Help Kids and Make a Difference
Invest in future cures for some of life's most devastating diseases. Give today to help more children grow up stronger.