Venous Access Devices
Venous access devices can help minimize the negative side effects of needle punctures
In most cases, the best way of getting medication into the bloodstream is by injecting it directly into the bloodstream through a vein. This allows the blood to quickly carry the medicine to where it is needed most. However, repeated needle punctures can damage the veins, especially if you have weak or thin veins, and some strong medicines can cause scarring in the veins.
If you are going to need regular, repeated injections over an extended period of time, venous access devices can help minimize the negative side effects of needle punctures. With venous access, a thin tube, called a catheter, is placed in a vein (often the arm, neck or chest) with one end extending out of the body. Medications can be delivered into the vein through the catheter, eliminating the need to make a new puncture each time. Blood draws, blood transfusions and fluid supply can also occur through the catheter. For some cancer patients, a venous access device may be the best way to administer chemotherapy.
IV (intravenous) lines are the best-known types of venous access devices. These typically are inserted near the surface of the skin and remain in place for a short period of time, often only as long as you are in the hospital. Other devices can be inserted more deeply into the body, through a vein, and are in place for much longer. Devices that will be in the body for a longer period are often made of special materials that minimize irritation to the vein.
All medical procedures have some risks associated with them; you should discuss these with your Hurley physician before your procedure.
During the procedure:
Your physician will determine the best type of device for you, based on your health and the treatment plan. Yourphysician will numb your skin with a local anesthetic and then make a small puncture over a vein in your arm, shoulder or neck. The catheter will be inserted into the vein and then moved into the appropriate position. The catheter will be closed at the point that it exits the body.
You will not feel the catheters moving through your vein because veins do not have nerve endings. You may feel a slight tugging sensation near the entry point of the catheter as it enters the vein.
In cases where more complex catheters or ports (a circular device connected to the catheter) may need to be implanted, minor surgery to place the device under the skin may be required. You will be given a local anesthetic and possibly a sedative to prevent pain.
Most procedures only require about 30 to 45 minutes to complete. You will then spend about an hour in the recovery room. If you have had sedation, you should arrange for someone to give you a ride home.
You can generally return to normal activities the day after the procedure. Be sure to keep the incision and catheter-exit site clean and dry for at least the first week; you may need to give yourself sponge baths and use antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. If you have had stitches, your physician will remove them after about a week to ten days.
Minor complications that may go away after a few days include bruising, bleeding, swelling or a sensation of tightness around the stitches. Contact your physician if these symptoms persist or if you experience any signs of infection or serious complications, including fever, swelling in your arms or legs, difficulty concentrating, difficulty breathing, discharges from the area of insertion or the catheter exit site, or red or tender skin.
Be sure to keep your catheter clean and take any medications as prescribed. Your physician may show you or a family member how to flush the catheter with saline solution in order to keep it clean.