ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Computer enhanced x-ray image of an implanted venous access port. The port is visible on the upper right of the image in dark blue. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Under the skin, the port has a septum through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times. This port is mainly used to administer drugs and fluids, especially chemotherapy to cancer patients who must undergo treatment frequently. Chemotherapy is often toxic, and can damage skin and muscle tissue, and therefore should not be delivered through these tissues. Portacaths provide a solution, delivering drugs quickly and efficiently through the entire body via the circulatory system. Other uses include to deliver coagulation factors in patients with severe hemophilia and to deliver antibiotics to patients requiring them for a long time or frequently, such as those with cystic fibrosis.
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