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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2000 March;55(3):139-46


language: Italian

Totally implantable venous access systems in cancer patients

Ragusa M., Alberti D., Argento R., Avenia N., Bartolucci R., Esposito S., Ferilli F., Marini C.


Background. A safe and dependable venous access is mandatory in order to perform cancer chemotherapy and monitor blood values in the neoplastic patient. Prolonged infusions of medications with sclerosing action may damage the vessel wall, inducing chemical thrombophlebitis. Furthermore, extravasation of necrotizing compounds may be a danger to the patient. The application of totally implantable venous access systems (VAS) started in 1982, in the United States of America, where at present 500.000 devices are implanted annually. In Italy such method has been introduced in a later period, with a constantly growing trend. VAS devices have evolved since their first presentation, and so have application techniques: the original surgical route has been supported by the percutaneous one, considered most appropriate by several Centers. In this study, personal experience concerning application of VAS in cancer patients is presented.
Methods. From July 1994 to February 1998, at the General Thoracic Surgery Dept. of the University of Perugia, 198 VAS have been implanted in 195 patients. During the first period all the systems have been applied by surgical cutdown of the cephalic vein (150 cases). In the last 12 month the percutaneous technique for vein puncture has been adopted in 48 patients.
Results. Immediate and late complications have occurred: among the former, pneumothorax, hematoma, malposition; among the latter, infection, subclavian vein thrombosis, catheter rupture. The results are analysed after an extensive review of the international literature; pros and cons of the different implantation techniques and the technical aspects useful for preventing complications are underlined.

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