Potential Benefits of Getting a Mediport
After receiving your initial breast cancer diagnosis comes your treatment plan. This can include chemotherapy, surgery, and/or radiation. These discussions can be tiring and lots of poking and prodding during multiple examinations from your doctor can all be overwhelming. A discussion that could come about is whether or not a Mediport would be best for your treatment.
As an infusion nurse, I get asked this question a lot, especially by women who have started treatment who have had second thoughts on deciding on one. Personally, I find that based on my experience there are more benefits in getting a mediport, however, this is a decision between you and your doctor and dependent on the treatment you will be receiving.
If IV chemotherapy is the kind of treatment you will be receiving, then you will either need a peripheral IV or mediport. Placement of a peripheral IV can be done by your infusion nurse at the chairside. It takes 5-10 minutes and is less invasive than a mediport. A mediport will typically be scheduled by your oncology team and this will most likely be scheduled at your local hospital through interventional radiology.
It’s a day procedure that does not take long and the placement itself is usually not painful. However, once placed it can be sore and bruised, but the mediport can be used right away. If treatment is finished, the mediport can be removed.
Things to think about when deciding on having a mediport
How often you will be receiving treatment? Depending on the frequency of treatment can help you and your doctor decide what might be best. A mediport needle can be left accessed for up to 7 days, therefore if you are receiving treatment during consecutive days it may be easier to have a mediport.
Multiple IV sticks can be painful or cause scar tissue which can make it more difficult to place peripheral IVs. If you’re receiving treatment every 2 weeks or 3 weeks a peripheral IV might be sufficient because the frequency isn’t as high.
Will you be receiving a vesicant? I bet your next question is what is a vesicant?! A vesicant is a type of chemotherapy agent that if leaked outside your vein can cause severe blistering and/or damage to surrounding tissue. Many cancer centers feel that if receiving a vesicant getting a mediport might be a better option as its direct access into a major blood vessel may decrease the risk of the drug leaking out of the vascular system.
Vesicants can be given through a peripheral IV, however, a nurse needs to confirm brisk blood return from the IV prior, during, and post-treatment to ensure proper placement.
Another question is do you have good veins that a nurse thinks can be used for treatment? If you don’t have many accessible veins for a peripheral IV then it may be difficult to get IV access on treatment days and a mediport may be a better route to go. Many cancer centers have a policy that a nurse has only so many tries on getting a peripheral IV.
A question asked a lot by my patients is what are the benefits of a mediport? In my experience, mediports are accessed easily by the infusion nurse using a specific type of needle which can reduce the number of needle sticks peripherally.
Once accessed, mediports can draw blood very easily if your doctor needs a blood specimen prior to treatment. Other options can include getting a double mediport which means you can give more than one medication at a time. Lastly, a patient who requires treatment for more than 24 hours can benefit from a mediport since the needle can stay in for several days.
With any decision regarding your treatment, it’s always best to consult with your doctor and oncology team who can help you navigate what is best for you.
Do you have a mediport? Share with us below in the comments.
Have you gotten a second (or third) opinion after your breast cancer diagnosis?