My Cancer Advisor > Brain Tumor > Experiencing Chemotherapy for Brain Tumors > Implantable Venous Access Devices for Delivering Chemotherapy

Implantable Venous Access Devices for Delivering Chemotherapy

Expert Analysis Highlights:

  • For repeated injections and blood drawing during cancer treatment, you will likely need to have an implantable device for gaining access to your central veins
  • Veins in the arms are usually used on a short-term basis, but they may be difficult, or even painful, to stick into repeatedly
  • A range of products give access to the larger veins without causing pain from repeated injections or damage to these veins
  • CR Bard Company has a nice website for patients who are being considered for an implantable device

The video segment here shows how a pediatric patient can have his chemotherapy administered without much discomfort, and without risking damage to his veins due to repeated injections. Whether you are an adult or a child with cancer requiring repeated injection or infusion of drugs, you will likely need to have an implantable device for gaining access to your central veins.

Why? Because administering drugs or other agents by intravenous infusion over a long period, or drawing repeated blood samples, can be a painful and difficult ordeal for patients and the healthcare team, especially when the patient is a child. Veins in the arms are usually used on a short-term basis, but they may be difficult, or even painful, to stick into repeatedly. The veins can dry up (thrombosis) or even get inflamed or infected (thrombophlebitis). Even more difficult and painful is resorting to getting blood, or giving infusions, from veins in the neck or the legs. This is a last resort when the veins in the arms have “given out”. We also know that it’s not just the needle and sometimes the drugs themselves can cause damage to the vein.  So-called “sclerotic agents”, such as adriamycin, can cause damage to the veins and infiltrate into the surrounding tissues, causing great tissue damage.

One of the significant technical advances for the cancer patients is the range of products that give doctors and nurses access to the larger veins without causing pain from repeated injections or damage to these veins.  Your doctor will go over with you about the different kinds of venous access to a major vein going to the heart. In each circumstance, it involves some minor surgery to put these catheters in place. These options are an implantable (subcutaneous) port, an , or a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC).

The CR Bard Company has a nice website for patients who are being considered for an implantable port. They also have some great booklets for children (in English and Spanish) that describe these catheters which can help the kids understand the process with clearer expectations of how they are used during treatment. As described in the booklet to parents: “By maintaining a matter-of-fact and positive attitude, you can help your child adjust favorably to his … [central line, implantable port, PICC line].” If you or a loved one is facing this procedure, talk to your doctor about the options that would be most appropriate in your circumstance.

I highly recommend these books for children to help describe and explain catheters:

For a children’s book about the implantable venous port, go to: http://www.bardaccess.com/pdfs/other/MC-0406-00_A_Port_For_Me_web.pdf

For a children’s book about the central venous catheter, go to: http://www.bardaccess.com/pdfs/other/MC-0404-00_My_Central_Line_Book_web.pdf

For a children’s book about the peripherally inserted central catheter, go to: http://www.bardaccess.com/pdfs/other/MC-0405-00_My_PICC_Line_web.pdf

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