Background: Port-a-caths (PACs) represent an important
component of the care of cancer patients, in particular for administration of chemotherapy. We sought to analyse the longevity and complications of PACs in cancer patients in a large community hospital. Methods: We retrospectively analysed the indications, duration of use, complications and reasons for removal of PACs in cancer patients treated in our centre from January 2005 to December 2010, and compared these with findings in patients who received a PAC in the same period for reasons not related to cancer. Results: During the study period 152 cancer patients received a total of 170 PACs; in the same period, 21 patients received a total of 35 PACs for reasons unrelated to cancer. The total analysis comprised 70,919 days of PAC use. Most cancer patients had a solid tumour (97%). PACs were removed because of a complication in 25 cases in cancer patients (14.7%) vs 15 cases in non-cancer patients (42.9%, p<0.01). Culture-proven infection was the reason for PAC removal in 16 cases in cancer patients (23.5%) vs eight cases in non-cancer patients (42.1%; p=NS ). The total number of PAC-associated infections was 20 in cancer patients (0.35 infections per 1000 PAC days) vs 19 in non-cancer patients (1.43 infections per 1000 PAC days; p<0.01). No PAC-associated thrombosis was found.
Conclusion: In clinical practice the use of PACs in cancer
patients is safe with lower complication rates when
compared with PAC use in patients without malignancy.