Hello Ladies, I wanted to share a cautionary tale regarding port placement in hopes that it will help someone else in the future.
Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I had experienced severe blood clots (causing bi-lateral pulmonary embolisms which nearly killed me). The cause of the clots was not immediately known and not due to anything "usual" so we investigated further and discovered the cancers. In a way, a blessing, I suppose.
Prior to my hysterectomy, the doctors (pulmonologist and oncologist) decided that I should have an IVC filter inserted to catch any future clots formed in my legs and preventing further lung damage. As cancer and chemo are thought to trigger clotting, this seemed like a good idea. I was told the filter was temporary and that after surgery and a few rounds of chemo, it could easily be taken out. If left in too long however (more than six months) it could be a bit of a challenge to remove so we set a date well in advance to have it removed.
Prior to beginning chemo, I had a port installed to help preserve my veins and for ease in administering chemotherapy drugs. I remember asking which side to put it on, whether there was a "better" side than the other. There was no "right" answer and as the room was set up to have the surgeon sit on my right when performing the procedure he placed the port on my right side.
The surgery went well as did the first few weeks of chemo. I then got an infection in the port and had to be on antibiotics for several weeks, during which we did not use the port. We resumed again thereafter and got three more good weeks from it before it formed a clot where the catheter was inserted into the internal jugular vein. I was hospitalized for a day, treated with heparin and released. No further issues through the end of my first full treatment (18 weeks).
Today, I went to have the port and the filter removed...(the port because I did not trust it would remain trouble free...the filter because it is nearly six months and time for it to come out). The port removal was a piece of cake - easy, relatively pain free and fast. Hooray!
The surgeon who was to remove the filter then came in and said he could not remove the filter as the vein through which he had to enter to run the retrieval tools was collapsed and scarred and thus impenetrable. This is the same vein that had clotted and the same vein in which the port-catheter was inserted. There are no other veins he can use without significant risk and possibly life threatening consequences so he sent me home with the belief that what was to be a temporary object in my vena cava is not permanent.
Had they placed the port on the left side of my body, this would not have been a issue. Unless I undergo a much more risky retrieval procedure (which I'm not inclined to do as I am not yet recovered from chemo) I will now have to be monitored for one more "risk" for the rest of my life thanks to a doctor/system that did not think far enough in advance.
I'm happy to provide more detail as to how/why this is, but just want to offer this advice....If you have an IVC filter or feel you will need one in the future, please have a detailed discussion with your onc about long term issues and then, have your port installed on your left side. It will save you from a troublesome process and much disappointment...none of us needs any more of that as we deal with many other issues associated with this disease.
Take care of yourselves and of each other.