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Port Removal - What's it like?

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 Hi,

Anybody out there who will share what having your port removed was like?
The onc. says it will be easy, not the bruising and such when it went in.

But it's still freaking me out that there's a tube that goes into a hole in a vein that goes directly to my heart and I've got no idea how they're going to plug that up when they take out the port.  

What happens? How was your experience??  

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Comments

  • candy2007
    candy2007 Member Posts: 5
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    Hi Jaanee,

    I had my port removed when they did my mastectomy.  I was under general anesthesia and did not feel anything.  When I woke up my chest did feel a lot better, not having the port in.  Your onc. is right it is very easy.  As far as for the tube that goes into the vein, I don't know how that heals, but I didn't have any problems.

    Lots of love and best wishes,

    Candy

  • Hattie
    Hattie Member Posts: 12
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    I had mine out with surgery too, but I know many who have had it out without being put undert--not a big deal according to them, but in my experience whatever next step I had to take kind of freaked me out until I got it over with. It's great getting rid of the port! Congrats!



    Take care,

    --Hattie





  • janet11
    janet11 Member Posts: 36
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    Mine was done under a general too, but I hear than most people get it done under a local.  My surgeon said this is a 10 minute (max) procedure and is NOTHING like putting it in.  I had mine removed last summer, and it's amazing what an emotional boost it is to get rid of it.  It symbolizes the END of cancer treatment (well, for me anyway (*smile*).

    This is a great view of removing a port -- from the surgeon's point of view...

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/03/a_happy_little_case.php 

  • TerryNY
    TerryNY Member Posts: 5
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    Jaanee, I had mine out with just a local and a nurse performed the "surgery".   I drove myself to and from the appointment.  It was done in a hospital setting. 

    It is nothing like the insertion as far as bruising and time involved.   I was fully aware of everything going on and was able to chatter during the whole procedure.  The nurse and her assistant kept it light yet kept me informed too. 

    I wore a gown but only had to remove clothes above my waist.  The nurses took my vitals and made sure I was physically able to undergo the procedure.   All of this was done in a pre-op room.  After the procedure I was wheeled back to the room and offered a drink and they again kept track of my vitals.   Everything was good after about 15 - 20 minutes and I was able to go home. 

    I did not have to fast the night before because I only had a local.   They cut along the same incision as the first, so only one scar. 

    I did bruise a little but not nearly as bad as the insertion. 

    Good luck!

  • Marple
    Marple Member Posts: 10,154
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    My port was removed with a local freeze (they have to cut the skin) and a mild sedative.  I was awake but chatty.  It was absolutely NO problem having it taken out.  I think the only bleeding was again from the incision line being recut.  And in time the scar tissue that had formed underneath the incision line disappeared.  I can't find the incision now without actually looking at it.  You will do just fine.  Port removal really IS a breeze.  Hugs and good luck.

  • wendyk13
    wendyk13 Member Posts: 1,458
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    My port was taken out under local, in physician treatment room at the hospital.  In and out...10 minutes max and that was that.  I drove myself as well...the vein just closes up after the tube is pulled.  Was a bit sore for a few days?  Yep...but nothing that a couple of advil didn't take care of. No heavy lifting tho for up to a week.  IE:  no snow shoveling, no lifting heavy loads of laundry, no lifting big roasts out of the oven etc!  Smile 
  • Jaanee
    Jaanee Member Posts: 8
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    Ladies, thank you very much. The port comes out on Friday and your words make me feel a lot less freaked. :-)

    I know I'll be 'out' because they told me not to eat or drink after midnight and to bring a driver. Not general anesthesia but I won't remember what happens. The surgeon told me that the port is stitched into a muscle, so maybe that's going to be a bit more involved.

    I am looking forward to being without the port. I think it's the source of discomfort in my neck and shoulder.

    One week later I'm headed out to San Antonio, TX for a few days relaxing - without my little friend. Cool

    Hugs and Thanks to all!
    Janee

  • Barbeqrn
    Barbeqrn Member Posts: 38
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    LaughingJaanee,

    I too am freaked out by having the port removed.  My chemo ended in Oct and here I am still walking around with it.  Could you let me know how it goes????  Thanks   Barb

  • Pam_E
    Pam_E Member Posts: 1
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    I get my port out on the 14th.  I won't be out, but sedated and able to hear everything going on like I was when they put it in.  I can't eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the procedure.  I can't wait to have it out!  It's not horrible having it, but it's just one more foreign object in my body that I'd rather not have.  Having the tissue expander swapped out with an implant on the 31st.  Hopefully I won't mind that "foreign object".  I'm looking forward to having my body put back together and feeling a little more normal.

  • Sassa
    Sassa Member Posts: 98
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    Jaanee,

    I also have pain in my shoulder and upper arm that I attibute to my port.  Whenever I mention the pain in connection with the port to my doctors (oncologist, PCP and surgeon) none of them will agree that the port is the cause.

    Have you ever asked your doctor if the port is the cause of your pain?

  • Jaanee
    Jaanee Member Posts: 8
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    Sassa,

    Yes, the oncologist and the surgeon BOTH think the port may be contributing to or the cause of my discomfort. (I don't know if it matters but I have a Power Port - with the three raised points that are very visible under the skin) It's not so much pain as a deep ache. We'll know for sure very soon if the port is the problem. It comes out tomorrow.Laughing

    One other thing - About a month ago - after a marathon office meeting where I sat at a laptop typing for three hours straight, I experienced some swelling in the side of my neck and shoulder. The onc said this was due to the port slowing down the normal drainage of veins in the area. All the veins across my chest are quite visible blue lines that weren't there a few months ago. The onc said that was due to the stress the port puts on the veins. I managed to avoid being put on blood thinners by doing some arm exercises and massaging the area regularly. That prevented more swelling - but nothing has made the ache go away. 

    I'm hoping all of this resolves once the port is out.  Surgery is Friday at 1pm. Say a prayer for me please.

    I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. I'm sure glad you ladies are out there. It really helps to hear from those who are on the same journey. 

    Jaanee 

  • shafali
    shafali Member Posts: 1
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    Hi,

    Removal of the port was a breeze. The doc gave me a few local shots and 10 minutes and 5 stiches was all it took. I was just fine. Went out for a dinner to a friends house in the evening. The stiches came out after 12 days.

    Just realised you might not read this till after your procedure. Hope it is as easy for you.

    Love and luck

    Bubble

  • ronnie67
    ronnie67 Member Posts: 1
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    Everyone's comments were so helpful! I am scheduled today -3/7 at 8:45 for port removal!! I was just on line trying to find out what to expect and found this post. How fortunate! Good luck to you Jannie!

  • Sassa
    Sassa Member Posts: 98
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    Jaanee,

    Thanks for the information.

    I just finished my one year of herceptin but plan to keep the port as long as possible because I have such horrible veins.  The port is a lifesaver for me during blood draws and I have had it used for anesthesia during some other non-cancer related minor surgeries.

    As long as I know the source of my discomfort, I can deal with it.

  • Jaanee
    Jaanee Member Posts: 8
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    Well, that wasn't so bad!! My port is out. Ronnie I hope your's went as well as mine did. The whole surgery lasted a little less than 30 minutes and I am feeling fine. They didn't knock me out at all. I was awake and could join their conversation and ask/answer questions.  

    My husband and I arrived at the outpatient surgical center an hour before the surgery time. They had me change into a gown, started an IV, and gave me an preventative antibiotic. In the surgical suite I was given Versed by I.V. and local numbing injections around the port. I didn't have any pain at all. Even now with all the drugs worn off it's only uncomfortable not painful. I've been using an ice pack and tylenol to stay comfy. When the procedure was over I got up and walked to the recovery area. Not wobbly or anything. In recovery they gave me juice, graham crackers and the remote for the tv. Half an hour later I got dressed and went home! 

    The one thing I was most worried about before surgery was how the hole in my vein would be sealed once the tube from the port was removed. My imagination had worked overtime with the worst of possibilities. (I know, bad habit, right?) My surgeon said she uses one loop stitch to close the spot. Once that question was answered I was ready to go.  

    I can understand why some may want to keep their port. Mine had shifted and could not be used for blood draws and was causing other little problems. I think, for me, having it removed is also a visible reminder that I'm moving on. 

    I don't have any restrictions. My surgeon said to let my body be my guide and just take it easy for today. Tomorrow I can take the gauze dressing off - under that is a clear plastic 'bandage' that stays on for one week. I can shower as soon as the gauze dressing is removed. 

    If you are ready to get your port removed I would say to go for it!

    Jaanee 

  • TerryNY
    TerryNY Member Posts: 5
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    Jaanee, I'm so glad it went well for you!  I think our imaginations do tend to work overtime when facing the unknown, human nature. 

    Now enjoy your vacation!

  • livinginboji
    livinginboji Member Posts: 9
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    I also have a power port and finished chemo in Nov. My onc said he wants to leave it in for a couple of years as that is when the highest risk of recurrence is!  That was like a slap in the face! I have the port flushed every month, however, last month they couldn't draw blood out of it so wonder what is up with that. It's good to know that its a relatively simple procedure!

  • susieloutoo
    susieloutoo Member Posts: 3
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    It was soooo much easier than having it put in!

    hugs

    susie

  • Oneworker
    Oneworker Member Posts: 1
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    To those who are still wondering when they remove the catheter from the vein some platelets typically arrive at the location very quickly to plug the opening. This prevents short-term bleeding, much like when they do a blood draw. In the hours and days after that, the body does long-term repairs to mend the opening. This is why they restrict exercise activity, to give the body time to put the long-term mending into place. The short-term patch could possibly be dislodged by vigorous blood pumping exercise.

  • SandyL
    SandyL Member Posts: 11
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    Cheryll (livinginboji),

    My onc also suggested leaving my port in for a while in case of recurrence.  I agree it was like a slap in the face; he made it sound like he fully expected a recurrence, which was definitely a bummer.  I really didn't mind leaving it in since it made blood draws much easier.  However, after several months with no recurrence, he changed his mind and insisted I have it out.  My surgeon removed it after giving me a local.  I wish I could say it was a piece of cake, but I could feel pressure while she was cutting, and it was a little uncomfortable.  I told her and she gave me another shot, but I don't know if she didn't wait long enough for it to kick in or what, but I still felt pressure and it continued to be uncomfortable.  Fortunately it was a very quick procedure.  Honestly, I would have preferred being out, but it wasn't an option.  

    By the way, my port was removed in 2003 and still no recurrence. Smile  (Nor did I have a recurrence from my first bout with bc, which was in 1986.  The second time was a new primary as opposed to a recurrence.)

    Good luck to everyone with their ports.  I didn't have a minute's trouble with mine except for the few days discomfort after it was put in and the discomfort during the removal.  My first time around I did 8 rounds of chemo without a port - my poor veins!  I'll take a port over that any time.

    Sandy 

  • tropicmom
    tropicmom Member Posts: 16
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    I've had mine in for 2.5 years. Been off herceptin for a year and still NED. Onc finally wants to take mine out.  I"m doing it tomorrow. I was told there will only be a local anesthetic shot, and then I guess they just yank it out????  No fasting, no IV, no premeds.  Nuttin                               Those of you who have had it out, did you feel anything when they were pulling it out?  How long is that cath any way?

  • nancyd
    nancyd Member Posts: 557
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    I had mine removed about a month ago.It was in the hospital, but in the minor surgery room. My surgeon gave me a couple of shots to numb the area, then reopened the old incision.

    The catheter is about four inches long, and about 1/8" wide. As it was removed, I felt a light tug, but no pain. After it was removed, he put in a couple of stitches in the vein to be sure it stayed closed. Then he closed the incision with surgical glue -- no visible stitches.

    I can hardly see a scar. Just a slight pinkness. But I have a lot of freckles on me that act as camoflage, lol.

  • bluedasher
    bluedasher Member Posts: 350
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    Mine was removed a week and a half ago. It definately comes out easier than it goes in. My removal was done by a PA who does most of the removals at my HMO. It was done under a local. I also had my insertion under a local rather than the usual twilight sleep. My insertion was done by an interventional radiologist and it took quite a while. There were a couple of stitches put in holding it in place. That is standard practice - I know because the radiologist was in a bit of snit because chemo nurses were having trouble adjusting to the smaller opening of the Bard Power port and had said perhaps it wasn't put in right and flipped over. So the radiologist was pointing out the stitches to the nurses assisting him and saying that there was no way that it could flip with those in there. The insertion took a long time and at the end I was wishing that I hadn't asked for it to be done by a local.

    Coming out was a piece of cake compared to putting it in. I was escorted to an outpatient surgery room after my vitals were checked. I stripped to the waste and put on a robe.  They went through the preliminaries, masking off the area with a surgical drape and swabbing the area.The shots with the local anesthetic sting a bit. The area was well numbed up and I didn't feel any pain. He kept me informed about what he was doing. Detaching the port took a few minutes; he said that there were a couple of stiches that needed to be cut but there were also areas where the tissues had attached to it and needed to be detatched. He also used a cauterizer to cauterize the edges of the wound which he said would speed the healing. 

    Once it was detatched, he pulled it out and kept pulling until all the catheter was out. It was a bit of an odd feeling - the sensation of it moving out but it didn't hurt and wasn't at all uncomfortable. I asked about how the vein would be sealed before we got to that point. He said he would just apply pressure to it and it would seal itself and that's what he did. That must have worked because there was no bruising.

    The incision was done on the insertion scar and looks quite tidy. I wasn't told to avoid exercise and I haven't had any trouble with healing.

    Tropicmom, the catheter was pretty long. They gave me the port with the catheter attatched and the catheter has distance marks. It is more than 21 cm. About half of it was in the vein.

    I had no premeds and no instructions for anything to do in advance except to not use Aspirin or any other blood thinners for the week before.

    My husband drove me just in case I didn't feel like driving afterward. I could have driven myself but it was nice to not have to.

  • ronniekay
    ronniekay Member Posts: 657
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    So glad I found all of you!  I'm getting my port out sometime in August/September (finishing herceptin in August but want to spend as much time in the pool as possible so may delay until Sept) and I've wondered what it will be like.  Thanks Janet, for the great surgeon's article on removal of a port...what a wise man!  I love my port...and I hate my port...and I know everyone knows what I mean!  I will rejoice the day it's gone, and be thankful it spared my veins and made this journey a bit easier.  No one may check this thread any more, but if you do, know that you are a blessing and that I pray you all continue to be well & strong!  xoxo

  • ronniekay
    ronniekay Member Posts: 657
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    Ports out...all is well...Praise the Lord!!!!!  Back to livin'!

  • dja625
    dja625 Member Posts: 3
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    Hi Janet11,

    I noticed when I was reading your post that you had early stage 1 IDC breast cancer Er-Pr- her 2 neu +. I had the same type. What type of chemo did you receive? Are you on Herceptin? You are the first person I read about that had no Estrogen involvement. I am interested to find out what your protocal was.

    I just had my port removed yesterday, because it never felt good and it was painful to access. I was on a Taxol Herceptin therapy once a week for 12 weeks, so it served it's propose. I still have 10 more sessions of Heceptin alone, every three weeks.

    I am in pain now, but that's from the incision. I just has to heal.  I know it will be better without it.

    I'm glad to know all the surgeries I had are behind me now. I had two breast sparing surgery that still had cancer in the margins. Then more clusters were found, so I talked to my surgeon who told me I needed to have a mastectomy.

    Taking into consideration my past history and situation, I opted to have a bilateral and reconstruction. I didn't have enough of my own donor tissue and if I had to Latissimus Dorsi muscle flipped to the front, I would have still needed implants. I decided the best way to go was the chest expanders and implants.

     I am cancer free, no nodes had cancer and I'm healing nicely from the expander to implant exchange. My hair is growing back nice and thick and a lot of my treatment is now behind me.

    I hope you situation went as smoothly as mine. We are survivors!!

     bcsurivor

  • dja625
    dja625 Member Posts: 3
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    Hi Jaanee,

    I was put under (Twilight) and didn't feel a thing. I choice not to have local because I have a history of not getting numb. It happens to me at the dentist and it also happen when I had my biopsy when I was first diagnosed.

    The port removal was quick and easy. I am at home recovering. I'm am in pain at the incision site, but that's will pass. I am so glad to have it out and you will be too. I still have 10 more infusions of Herceptin because the type of cancer I had was Her2 neu + with no ER or PR driving the cancer.

    Best of luck to you. Everything will turn out fine with you port removal. You will probably be sore, but it's not stopping me from going back to work tomorrow.

    bcsurvior

  • tougherthanithought
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    Hi!  I just had my port removed this past Friday.  I also had the Twilight med, and I was aware of what was going on.  There was no pain, just some pressure and tugging.  The Dr. said that sometimes your body attaches to the port and it takes a little more elbow grease to get it out.

    Yesterday I was a little sore at the incision and today it is a bit sore, but nothing a few Tylenol won't take care of.  I'm hoping the incision will heal nicely and the scar will fade quite a bit.  But, for me, a small scar is better than the ugly port protruding from my chest.  It was so obvoius when I wore certain tops.

    So happy the dang thing is out!!!!!!!!!!Smile

    Sherrill

  • KimTySmith
    KimTySmith Member Posts: 2
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    I was diagnosed in September 2003, had surgery in December 2004 and completed surgery in August 2004.  In two days I willhave my port removed.  yes ladies, I have had my port in for almost 7 years.  I am scheduled to have it removed Wed, Dec 22, and I must admit I am a little freaked out.

    The only reason I am having it removed, is it does not draw blood any longer.  otherwise I would still have it.  I guess I felt like being at the oncologist offfice I was still being treated in some way, but now I am going in to getit removed.  I am both sad and happy, like the end of chemo and feeling very vulnerable that I will only see my oncologist yearly.  But it is time to move on and start living again.  Wish me luck.  I will be completely under.  Iguess because it has been in so long it has attached itself to some tissue.

  • Letlet
    Letlet Member Posts: 55
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    Hi Kim,

    I wanted to know how it felt to have it for so long? Did it not bother you at all when doing certain things? I know that when I turn a certain way, it feels sore to me. I will be done with Herceptin...not even next year but the year after that! I think I'm one of those people who will hesitate in taking the port out...