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Port problems-Can't get blood from it

Posts: 118
Joined: Mar 2005

Hello to everyone. Hope you all are doing well. I went to the doctor today for 1st blood work after my first round of chemo last Wednesday-Friday. The port worked fine last week, but today they couldn't get any blood from it. She flushed it first with saline but still couldn't get any blood. She added a blood thinner and waited 30 minutes, tried again, no luck, waited 15 more minutes, nothing, added heprin, waited 10 minutes. Still nothing. She finally took blood from my arm and said not to worry. My husband is very worried. He thinks I shouldn't get the next chemo until they are sure the catheter tube is in the vein. He's afraid the chemo drugs will go to the wrong place and cause bigger problems. I'm not sure what to think. After just 1 treatment, my white count dropped so I'm suppose to get Nupogen shots on Friday and Monday so I can continue chemo on Wednesday. Any input on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Kandy

Posts: 205
Joined: Apr 2005

Hi Kandy! On my first chemo treatment, the nurse had to stick me three times before any blood return. I'm told some ports don't have a blood return. The type that was given to you should be in your records. I had a bit of trouble on the next chemo treatment too. I don't think it's unusual. I've never heard of a port coming loose from a vein. Hang in there. Mine had to be "Broken In" LOL! Don't worry honey. ~ Wanda

Posts: 186
Joined: Nov 2004

Hi Kandy...de ja vu. My wife had that exact same problem with her port. It only happened once, and occurred on her second visit for chemo also. Haven't had a problem since. The other day it happened to another patient in the chemo room too. I don't think it's anything to worry about, unless maybe it's a continuing problem.

The nurses helping my wife said that having the patient rest in a reclined position, like in a laid back recliner, sometimes helps. The nurses didn't try any of the blood thinners though.

Jerri also had to have the Nupogen after two chemo treatments. Her oncologist assured us that it's not unusual. Jerri was back on chemo after five days of Nupogen.

It will be interesting to see what others say. Try not to worry though. Good luck and let us know how things go.


MJay's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Aug 2004

Hi Kandy~
I had the same thing. Not to worry. Mine was finicky in that we finally figured they had to use a 1 inch needleto access it.
At first they thought I had a defective port and I was sent down to the doctors in (???) Flouroscopy to try to fix it but even they were unable access it.They used this cool Xray machine that allowed them to view what they were doing with the needle and port through my skin. I went back the next day with the intent they were going to replace it but the dr was able to get it by using a longer needle.

The issue with my port got to be a joke. Only one of the chemo nurses could access it. The other nurse just couldn't do it. We still don't know why we just accepted that the one nurse was going to do it all the time. Period.

They will figure it out. I was off chemo for a day or two while we figured it out but eventually all went well.


Posts: 7
Joined: Feb 2005

Hi Kandy, Evidently, you are experiencing the same problem I was having--trouble getting a blood return from my port on several occassions. The nurse finally determined that I have a "positional port". She had me raise my left arm over my head and turn my head from one side to another until she can get a return. They also use the 1 inch needle. Hope this info helps your situation and Best Wishes on your road to recovery.

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004


Getting blood back from a port means the nurse needs to know how to "access it" with that skinny needle. The Cancer Center I go to won't let the nurse taking the blood access my port, only the oncology/infusion nurses can. Tell your hubby to relax and then give him a hug and a kiss for caring so much. You are very lucky to have him by your side.

Lisa P.

Posts: 259
Joined: Nov 2004

I don't know what is wrong with your port, but I did want to say that the one time they couldn't get my port to work, it completely unnerved me. It only happened once, but I guess we are all feeling so vulnerable and out of control, a minor thing can seem major. I hope this resolves itself and that this is the end of your port saga. Good luck!

Posts: 42
Joined: Oct 2004

They were never able to get a blood return from my wife's port, but were able to use it to give chemo, at least for seven treatments. It was then removed. We suspect the surgeon's original installation was less than perfect.

Size of the needle can make a big difference. Relax and give them a chance to work with it. By the way, my wife has seven Neupogen shots following each treatment, to get her white counts up so they do the next one....Not unusual at all, apparently. Good luck and best wishes!


grandma047's picture
Posts: 381
Joined: Feb 2004

Hi Kandy, They have had trouble getting blood from port on several occassions. Usually they just have to keep flushing it and eventually it works. One time they had me put my arm up over my head and it worked. She sadid they like to be stubborn at times. I also have been doing the neupogen shots for several weeks. It took me three weeks of that and aranesp, which for your red blood counts, to get it up enough to do chemo today. I also take iron for the hemoglobin. My red and white blood counts, hemoglobin and platelets all bottomed out. I felt terrible. I have more energy now that they're back up. On a lot of pain meds or probably would have more. Good luck with your chemo. If you have any more questions, let me know.
Love and prayers, Judy(grandma47)

Posts: 118
Joined: Mar 2005

You all are so great at quick responses. I feel much better. Thank you so very much and God Bless !! Sincerely, Kandy

Posts: 719
Joined: Feb 2005

Hi Kandy,
Gosh, how scary.....Lord, the things we go through...
I hope you have found a lot of info from others on the site...I haven't had a problem with my port; although, I do have periodic pain.
Wishing you the best and keep in touvh. I am so new that I don't have the experience of others....but I wish you well.


nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

ask her what size needle she is using..a 20 or 22
works going in-(Chemo) but not going out-(blood draw) in my port. They use a 19 for blood draws. anything smaller doesn't work for draws.. Nanuk

Urnmywy's picture
Posts: 13
Joined: Oct 2020

My port worked perfectly 11 times then , no blood, after having me move my arms & head like in previous replies, still didn't work, she just rotatEd or spun the needle & it started working again. Yeah. Best of luck

Real Tar Heel
Posts: 202
Joined: Nov 2019

My port was very troublesome at first, but when I started taking blood thinners it all worked a lot easier. Now that I'm off of the thinners, they can't use it to draw blood at testing time. Since I'm not currently receiving therapy, I just let them jab me. It was only a problem for doing draws like many others in the thread have said, but it is one of the least of our worries I think.

Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2020

I have the same problem every time they draw blood before my infusion. They put the recliner way back so my head is down and i turn my head and eventually after a 3-4 flush it works.

Posts: 24
Joined: Aug 2020

Hi Kandy, I've had this happen a couple of times and, I'll admit, the first time it really freaked me out. However, the nurses explained it to me like this. They said that when this happens (and apparently it's pretty common), there's like a flap that is sealing down on the port when they pull back the syringe to get the blood flow, but opens back up when they push the saline through. When mine occurred, they brought in one of the nurses who has more luck getting it to cooperate. She had me lift my arm up above my head, lean over almost in a squat, lay down, etc. I felt like I was doing calisthenics! But she got it to cooperate and I was so very relieved. It did it the next time again, but has not been stubborn since. 

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