Implanted vascular access devices (ports) in children: complications and their prevention
Implanted vascular access devices (ports) play a major role in the management of children with cystic fibrosis (CF) and many haematological conditions. With the expanding use of ports, new and more frequent complications are being encountered. To retrospectively review the complications associated with ports, the case notes of all patients who underwent insertion of a port between 1997 and 2000 were analysed. Details of the underlying disorder, type of vascular device, nature of use, and complications were recorded; 55 ports were inserted in 41 patients (a second port was required in 12, a third port in 2) during this period. Their underlying diagnoses were CF (11), haemophilia (4), haemolytic anaemias (2), immunological disorders (6), solid neoplasms (8), and leukaemia (10). Thirteen ports (24%) were removed and replaced for various complications: infection (2), blockage (4), leak (2), dislodgement (2), and malposition (3). Including four port-related problems managed conservatively (3 access problems managed by change in access technique; 1 blockage managed by urokinase), the over all complication rate was 31%. Ports thus have a high complication rate with long-term use. Selecting the right port system, proper installation of the port chamber, and efficient handling and maintenance by trained staff could prevent the vast majority of port-related complications.