Different lines

Hi folks and a happy new year to you all. I haven't been on for a while although I read and sometimes reply a lot. I've been doing my best to enjoy my time after last chemo but now i'm about to start 5th line chemo of weekly taxol. I've been offered a choice of Hickman line or portacath and don't know which is best. Has anyone got experience of portacath?I have had Hickman line before. Thanks

27 Replies

  • Not had the experience of either. I have a PICC line. Not really from choice , I would have preferred a portacath they are less restrictive. You can swim, bath and shower without worry. The unit should give you some information on each device with all pros and cons and talk you through them

    Good luck with your choice and your treatmentxxx

  • Meant to add that Hickman lines are more restrictive too. More obvious, get in the way, and possibly more at risk of infection.

  • I haven't had either, but I've heard many women speak highly of portacaths. Once the port is in place, it can be used to draw blood and for chemo. Best, Vxxx

  • Hi there,

    I have a portacath fitted and it was the best decision I could have made. It was fitted under local anesthetic as a day patient before starting my 3rd line treatment in 2012. I have since had a 4th line treatment through it and will be starting 5th line soon so well worth having it done.

    It has to be flushed every four to six weeks when you are not on chemo and I am lucky that my palliative care nurse comes to my house to flush it for me. It takes about 10 minutes or so.

    It is under your skin so you can still swim, shower etc without worrying and it is less likely to get infections in.

    They access it with a needle and can take your blood through it as well so no need for canulas during treatment.

    I am very active with two young sons and it hasn't stopped me doing anything. I do find though that if I ride on roller coasters it tends to block it so I have it flushed just after I have been to any theme parks to stop this.

    I hope this helps. If you want to chat more about it then PM me your phone number and I will give you a ring.

    Hugs Jackie xxxx

  • There can't be many discussions of this sort where someone says their chemo device tends to get blocked on roller coaster rides, Jackie! I love your attitude.....you're a real example to us all.

    Me? I'm too chicken to ever go near a roller coaster :-S More power to you

    Love Wendy xx

  • My onc said he isn't very likely to have to warn many people about that issue!! Heh ! Heh!

  • Me too Wendy! Bad experience at Belle Vue in 1942 put me off forever!


  • Hi Margaret! How are you? Haven't heard from you for a while. Hope things are OK xx

  • hi Jackie, Thanks very much for this. I've had Hickman line in before and the portacath sounds better but my concern is that not many nurses I've talked to seem to have been trained in using it. I get my treatment at the Christie in manchester. What was your experience of this? I'd appreciate a chat please.

    Francesca xx

  • Hi.

    I use a portacath since March 2012, now I´m on the third line chemo without any problem. Besides the liberty of movement, it´s painless - before chemo, the nurses at my hospital use an anesthetic ointment over the skin, so when the needle is pinned you feel just the pressure.

    Hugs, Fernanda

  • Thanks Fernanda. Have you had any problems with it?x

  • Francesca, only once the port has blocked, but with two infusions of heparin, the blood clot has vanished.

    The nurses have different lenght needles, so when I was thinner, the needle was shorter. Now I gained some kilos, and the needle is longer. Just once I have found a nurse who could not puncture it in the first attempt.

    Hugs, Fernanda

  • Hello,

    I am in the US and most folks at the infusion clinic use a port. Mine is a Bard Power Port. It was inserted during outpatient surgery using a local. Within days it was fully healed and I do not even have a scar. Most times I do not even know it is there. I have a huge phobia about ANYTHING invasive. This port has saved me from.much anxiety. I do use a lidocaine cream about an hour prior to.accessing it for a pain free puncture. I was even able to use the port for a CT scan with dye contrast. I have only had one nurse who could not access the port before I had a meltdown. She was two hours late and the lidocaine had worn off and she just could not find the spot..after three attempts instilled her and asked for someone else. That nurse came in and.got it first try. I highly recommend it.


  • Thanks Jane that's useful to know x

  • I have a portacath and have previously had a PICC line. (Based on Google research) the advantage of the port over the Hickman line is that you don't have anything hanging outside the body. In that respect the Hickman line and PICC seem similar: they make life easier for stuff in and bloods out but they do require caution in daily life.

    The port is completely contained and so you don't have to worry about showers and swimming etc. One of my chemo nurses said she loved them so much she thought people should be born with them!

    I have mixed feelings about mine and this is because it sticks out a lot more than I thought it would. I'm by no means skinny, but don't have a lot of fat on my rib cage above my breast which is where the port is. The nurse said this was less of an issue for people who are plumper. I'm generally unaware of it except sometimes in bed. I suspect I'll become quite self-conscious about it when the summer comes and I'm wearing fewer clothes. So for me it's a toss up between practicality (it can be left in for months or years - which for many of us is a plus point from the point of view of rotten veins and likely future chemo) and vanity I guess!

    Good luck whatever you decide to do and I hope your new regime agrees with you.

  • Thank you. I prefer the hidden line but an worried that not enough nurses are trained to use it x

  • The impression I got was that numbers were increasing. But I agree that if you lived a way away from somewhere to get it flushed it would be a hassle. I'm lucky as I'm pretty close to the hospital. I just need to make sure to remember that all other blood tests for the GP now also need to be done there as well! Thought you might be interested to have a look at this which does illustrate how easy it all is (and it does sit better on her)

  • I don't have any experience of either but just wanted to say I was sorry to hear this. I am also back on chemotherapy carboplatin/gemcitabine/Avastin and might bump into you in the chemotherapy suite

  • Sorry to hear your news too i'm starting next Tuesday afternoon and should be there every week at Dr Welch clinic x

  • I am at Oak Road on Thursday then not due back in until the end of January. I hope your treatment goes well

  • Are you in clinic thurs xx

  • No just Oak rd

  • I'm having the line put in on thursday at 11am in the procedures dept if you're around then we could finally say hello!

  • I am having a line put in at 11 on Thursday at the procedures dept. Are you around then?

  • I have to be at Oak Road for 12:30 for bloods

  • I am on weekly taxol with a PICC, I know someone who has a Hickman and found it OK know nothing more about the portal ath except we turned down a research proposal into them as the scientists on the panel were unhappy about its suitability. The PICC is a great success! It is flushed every week, used to collect blood and deliver chemo! Can't say I will not be glad to be rid of it but it is easy to hide under loose(ish) sleeves and, arm wrapped in cling film, is great in the shower. This is my 4th lot of chemo (I was on Icon 6 but became allergic to carboplatin) then cisplatin, which wiped me out. Apart from the cumulative exhaustion and impaired immune system (endless UTI's and 2 viral cold type infections) I am tolerating it very well with 6 hourly metaclopramide controlling the nausea and paracetemol every 6 hours for any abdominal pain!

    Just read some of the other responses! I was not offered Portacath at Jimmies but will ask about it next time! It may be lack of nurse training!

    Life is still great!


  • Thank you Margaret. That's useful to know. And yes life is still great!

    Francesca x

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