What is a catheter?
Catheter is a device placed in the body to administer medicines directly in the blood stream, without puncturing arm veins. Generally, it is required for cancer quimiotherapy. As quimiotherapy medicines cause damage in arm veins, using a catheter can give the patient security and comfort.
What are the types of catheter?
There basically are two types of catheter:
How is a catheter implanted?
- Partially implanted catheter: is introduced in the body through a neck vein. A small portion is placed under the skin in order to avoid infection. However, the piece used for administering medicines remains exposed. It is a thick catheter and can be also used for hemodialysis.
- Totally implanted catheter: also known as port or port-o-cath, is introduced in the body through a neck vein. The piece used for administer medicines is placed under the skin just bellow the clavicle. This piece is called reservoir and has the size of a coin. In order to administer medicines, the reservoir is punctured with a fine needle.
A catheter is placed through a simple surgical procedure performed by vascular surgeons. Using sedation and local anesthesia, the surgeon makes a small cut in the neck, from where he inserts the catheter. Generally, the patient can return home in the same day.
For how long a catheter can stay in the body?
A catheter will stay in the body during all the treatment time. Partially implanted catheters can stay for months. Totally implanted catheters (ports) can stay for years.
Are catheters detected by security systems in banks and airports?
Most modern catheters are made of plastic or a kind of metal that is not detected by security systems.
Which special care is required with a catheter?
It is important to keep the site where the catheter is placed clean. When the catheter is not being used, one may ask a nurse to wash it with heparin solution, in order to avoid obstruction.
Which activities should be avoided by someone who uses a catheter?
A person using a catheter can live a normal life. Activities that could cause trauma to the site where the catheter is implanted should be avoided.
How is a catheter removed?
After the end of treatment, the vascular surgeon removes the catheter through a simple surgical procedure.