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How is a portacath removed?
101 Posts
Can someone explain what happens when a Portacath is removed? I don't understand why they put us under general anesthetic to put it in, but only use local anesthetic to remove it. Well, that's what someone told me.
12 Replies
2094 Posts
Removal is pretty simple - I had it done under local anaesthetic, there was a little scraping and pulling but no problems.

I had mine inserted under conscious sedation (although I remember absolutely nothing)...They need you to be completely still as the line is going into a big artery, and the port needs to be located in exactly the right place...
101 Posts
Thanks for the reply Essjay‍ . 
I wonder how the artery doesn't leak after they take the tube out?  
I can't believe that after everything I've gone through, I'm feeling a bit freaked out about this last procedure for some reason.
2094 Posts
Chocoholic‍ the surgeon who did my removal was great. He talked to me all through the procedure. We decided I’d become part-Borg (Star Trek reference) because muscle had grown around the port (hence the scraping). I have next to no adipose tissue which would have limited that. I remember him pulling the thing out - he had be take a deep breath which I think helped release the tube and he held it up with one hand while he had a finger from his other hand  on the blood vessel. I was quickly stitched up and there was no blood! 

I was just so glad to be done with the thing - it caught on my clothes, my purse strap, seatbelts. I had to take it easy for 10 days until the stitches dissolved - no housework, gardening (not that it’s the season now), heavy lifting. I did develop a keloid scar though - I massage oil on it daily and I can tell the scar tissue is fixed to the underlying muscle. That’s just me - I have other keloid scars, cos that’s what my body does. Maybe I’ll get a tattoo to hide it...

You’ll be fine, but I totally get the worry. Someone is cutting you open again and we always worry that bad things can happen. Hope you have a treat for yourself planned after the procedure. I had icecream 🍦🍦🍦
Chocoholic‍ The procedure was the same for me going in and coming out. I even had the same doctor. I was totally awake both times. In fact I remember the fact that he had a goldfish, road a motorcycle and was going on vacation the first time I saw him. He sang while he was putting it in and I asked why he wasn't singing to take it out.

2325 Posts
It seemed strange to me that i was up under general anesthesia to have the portacath inserted, yet just a local taking it out!

I had a new surgeon, who i hadn't met before, take it out.  It was her first time , so i think she was more nervous than I!  She had to do quite a bit of tugging to get it out, but as the others have said, it is relatively simple.  I have a small scar where the portacath was, to me it's a gentle reminder of the chemo journey.  I see it as my pathway to healing.

All the best, Kim
120 Posts
Hi Chocoholic‍ ...
I had mine removed a couple weeks ago under local. There was A LOT of tugging and scraping, but I couldn't feel any pain at the time. My surgeon was concerned with trying to make the incision look pretty so it would heal well, therefore my procedure took about 30 minutes but they usually dont take nearly that long.
I was bruised and sore for a few days and, of course, no lifting or housework on that side for 2 weeks. Otherwise it was easy peasy.
Hezz :)
Cynthia Mac
4124 Posts
Chocoholic‍ Wrote:

I wonder how the artery doesn't leak after they take the tube out?  

I’m not sure, but I’m going to go with it’s one of those miracles of the human body!

💛 I hope your procedure goes well.
11 Posts
@Essjay, what is conscious sedation like??
2094 Posts
Cece‍ - conscious sedation is where they give you a sedative so that you don’t move and are calm for the procedure. I remember absolutely nothing. My husband had it for a colonoscopy and similarly cannot remember anything. It’s not that we were asleep, it’s just the drugs affect your memory (so you don’t remember any bad stuff). Afterwards, I needed someone with me 24 hours, couldn’t drive, sign legal documents etc and was advised to eat a light meal and bland foods for the day.

Hope that helps - sorry, I can’t tell you what it was like! Essjay
327 Posts
I remember relief in getting the third nipple out. Was easier and faster than putting it in for sure. They stitch up the vein and no leaking. Removing it was the final step in my cancer 1.0 treatments and a big milestone. Celebrate it!
101 Posts
Thank you everyone for putting my mind at ease.
There is a cancelation at the hospital so I get to have my port out much sooner than expected. I had my last herceptin infusion early Dec, so I hope that's enough time elapsed.
I asked the surgeon if I would be able to get a portacath again if I got a recurrence of cancer. He said yes. That's a relief, because I was so grateful for my portacath. 
Thanks again.
Best of luck with the removal Chocoholic‍ 😊
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