Removing a Port-a-Cath

Port-a-Cath insertion

A Port-a-Cath is small medical device that is put under the skin. It is used to give medicines to patients whose veins are weak or very narrow, or for those on long-term treatment or therapy.

The Port-a-Cath is removed when it is no longer needed, or if it has become infected.

The procedure is usually done in the department where you had it inserted.

Risks of removing the Port-a-Cath

Serious risks and complications of a Port-a-Cath removal are very rare. However, as with any procedure, there are some risks and it is important you understand them. The radiologist will explain these to you.


You will have 2 permanent small scars at the sites of where the port is removed:

  • a 2cm to 3cm scar in the chest wall
  • a scar at the base of your neck, which is usually less than 5mm                                   


This is quite common and normally settles a few days after the procedure.                                                                                                  


There is a chance of getting a skin infection, or an infection within your bloodstream. Infections can be treated with antibiotics.                          

We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to have the procedure or treatment, we will ask you to sign a consent form. This says that you understand what is involved and agree to have the treatment.

Read more about our consent process.

Preparing for your procedure

You will need to have a blood test to measure your full blood count (FBC) and clotting before the procedure. Your doctor or nurse specialist will tell you how to book your blood test. 

If you are currently receiving chemotherapy, you will need the blood test to be taken within 1 week before the procedure.

If you are not currently receiving chemotherapy, a blood test within the 8 weeks before the procedure is fine. If you have had a blood test for any other reason within this time we can use the results.

Changes to your medicines

You should tell your doctor or nurse if you:

  • are taking any blood thinning medicines, such as antiplatelet medicines (for example aspirin or clopidogrel) or anticoagulant medicines (for example warfarin or rivaroxaban)
  • have diabetes, as you may need to change the dose of your diabetes. This is because you will need to fast before the procedure

If you have coronary stents or metal heart valves in place, do not stop taking these medicines, but let the interventional radiology department know before coming to the hospital for your procedure.

If you need advice, call the interventional radiology department as soon as you get your appointment letter. Phone: 020 7188 5576 (for Guy’s Hospital) or phone: 020 7188 5479 (for St Thomas’ Hospital).

Fasting instructions

Do not eat anything for 6 hours before the procedure. However, you can drink still (non-fizzy) water up to 2 hours before the procedure. Eating and drinking before your procedure will cause delays.

On the day of the procedure

You will need to arrive 1 hour before your appointment time to allow enough time for preparation. 

You should arrange for a responsible adult to take you home by car or taxi after your procedure. We do not recommend that you use public transport as it is unsafe if you feel unwell.

Arrange for someone to stay with you for 24 hours after your procedure. If you cannot arrange this, please let us know as soon as possible. 

Before the procedure

After you have arrived at the interventional radiology department, you will be examined and assessed by a radiology nurse and given a hospital gown to wear.

A small plastic tube (cannula) will be inserted into a vein in your arm. This means that we can give you a sedative during the procedure, if you need it. 

You will be given the opportunity to ask the radiologist (a doctor who uses X-rays to diagnose and treat illnesses) any questions you may  have. 

You will also need to sign a consent form, before the procedure can take place to say that you understand what it involves. 

During the procedure

You will be asked to lie on the X-ray table. The area where the port was inserted will be cleaned with antiseptic fluid and draped with sterile towels. 

The radiologist will inject some local anaesthetic into your skin on your chest where the port is to numb the area. This may sting a little as it goes in. After this you should only feel pressure, not pain. Please let the nurse know if you are uncomfortable.

The radiologist will make a small cut over the port site. The port device and the catheter attached will be safely removed at the same time. The wound will be stitched and covered with a sterile dressing. 

After the procedure

After the removal you will stay in interventional radiology recovery for 2 to 4 hours. Your blood pressure and pulse will be measured frequently at first and then at regular intervals. A clip on your finger will measure the oxygen level in your blood. This is not painful. 

You will be provided with light refreshments, such as tea or coffee, a sandwich and some fruit. If you have any special dietary requirements, you are welcome to bring food and drink with you.   

The nurse will tell you when you can get up and move around.

You will have a dressing on the port removal site. This will require changing after 48 hours. 

Ideally the port removal wound site should remain covered with the waterproof dressing for 14 days. Please avoid soaking the dressing for long periods as it may peel off. Short showers should not cause a problem.

Leaving hospital

You will need a responsible adult to take you home by private transport. We do not recommend that you use public transport as it is unsafe if you feel unwell.

You will also need somebody to stay with you overnight.

What to do if there's a problem

Let your doctor or nurse know if:

  • you have a high temperature (fever), chills, or feel unwell, as this could be an early sign of infection
  • you have any pain
  • you notice any redness (this might appear darker on brown or black skin), inflammation, or swelling on the port or disc site
  • your arm, chest, neck or shoulder feels swollen and painful

Resource number: 2994/VER5
Last reviewed: February 2024
Next review due: February 2027

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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