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IV line

catherine58's picture
catherine58
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2007

On Wednesday I am having what is known in the UK as a "Hickman line" inserted under my collarbone in preparation for six months of Folfox. I had presumed this was what is referred to on this board as a "port" but I've just read something which suggests I may be having an old-fashioned and cumbersome device compared to what you get in the US. From what I understand, it is a sort of tunnelled catheter which will require a dressing and will have one or more dangling tubes. These will require regular flushing and cleaning to prevent infection and will mean that I will not be able to swim and must take care showering. Is this what you have in the US? I have read something about a port which is invisible as it is implanted under the skin and requires no daily care - this sounds altogether preferable. I just wondered whether this is what you routinely have in the US? If so, I wanted to enquire about getting one here, although I may have left it too late. Or perhaps there are advantages to the "Hickman line" that I don't know about?

Thanks so much (again!) for your help.

Catherine

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Hi Catherine. I'm in the U.S. and I have a port which I received also for the Folfox regimen. It is located almost dead center in my chest and requires no daily care. It only needs to be flushed with heparin immediately before and after treatment. Otherwise, it is just there. If I were you, I would make definite inquiries about getting this type. You will have enough to deal with without having to mess about with dangling tubes and the like. The only time there is anything cumbersome about the port is when you are getting your infusion via the portable pump for approximately 48 hours. Once the pump is removed, the port is flushed and you go about your business. It is worth trying to get the port. I will be thinking about you and cheering for great results for you.

Monicaemilia's picture
Monicaemilia
Posts: 455
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi Catherine: I live in Canada and I have a port, but I know a lot of people who also have the 'hickman line'. I think part of the reasoning is the amount of time and treatments you will need. I will probably need my port for a very long time, where yours seems to be short-term. I agree the port is preferable, but just remember, the hickman line will be there for a short term. Don't stress too much if you cannot get a port. Monica

nudgie's picture
nudgie
Posts: 1483
Joined: Sep 2006

I had wwhat was called a port-a-cath inserted underneath my sink and inserted through the venus vein which went into the right side of my body/lung. The only care was getting it flushed with Heprin and saline after the 5FU pump was removed and once finished with my chemo treatment it had to be flushed every 3 weeks with heprin and saline until it was surgical removed.

Some people have this device inserted in a doctors office, but my surgeon recommended to have it done in the hospital as outpatient.

From what I read and seen, the Pic or Hickman line is something similar to the port-a-cath but remains outside the sink except for the portition that goes through the vein and yes it does require more care.

Also with the port-a-cath I had to give up my weight lifting until removed.

I hope this helps.

JADot's picture
JADot
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Catherine,

My oncologist said that when she did her onc training at Stanford years ago, there was about 50-50 between a hickman and a medi-port. She had no preference one way or another. My surgeon, however, persuaded me strongly toward a mediport on the premise that you want "care-free" while on chemo and not in the best of moods. I have a port and was very glad for it. While it still needs to be flushed every 3 months, that's the ONLY thing you need to do with it.

All that said, to get a port put in requires a surgery, and mine was painful afterwards for days, more painful than the earlier major belly wound. I think a medi-port is a good idea from my own experience. I think having wires, tubes etc out of sight after you take off the pump is a huge psychological relief if nothing else. I swam while on chemo, which would not have been possible with a hickman.

I think perhaps you should talk to your doctor/surgeon about this and ask why they defaulted you to a hickman. They may have some reasons that we don't know about.

Good luck to you and keep us posted on what you decide on.

Ying

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I have had both. Last time I had chemo I had a Hickman. This time I have a port. The reason I had a Hickman last time was that the nurses/staff at the hospital where I was receiving treatment were more familiar with it, and my oncologist also felt there was a smaller chance of infection (or, that if you get an infection, it is easier dealt with). Yes, the Hickman involves dangly bits protruding from your chest. I found it a little depressing. BUT -- if this is what you end up with, it's OK. I couldn't swim but I could have a bath (with water below the Hickman) and even go in a hot tub (jacuzzi). If you end up with a Hickman, feel free to contact me via this site if you want tips on clothing, etc. Now I have a port (under the skin) and I do have to say I much prefer it -- esp psychologically. Oh -- I didn't find maintaining the Hickman difficult. I didn't have a dressing. The port had to be flushed once a week. I was having chemo every other week so this only meant one 'additional' flush. I went to the hospital for my flush but some people do it at home.
Good luck.
Tara

catherine58's picture
catherine58
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2007

Thank you all so much for this information. After reading through everything I decided to push for a Port-a-Cath rather than a Hickman line, and am delighted to say the hospital has agreed to implant one tomorrow.

Best wishes

Catherine

JADot's picture
JADot
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Yeah!!! You'll be really glad you insisted!!!

Best of luck to you!
Ying

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Yay! You'll be glad you did. Good luck with everything, and keep us posted!

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