Implanted Vascular Access Device (IVAD)
What is an IVAD?
An IVAD is a small device placed under the skin and into a vein. Fluids, drugs, or blood/blood products can be given to your child through an IVAD. This device allows your child to get fluids or drugs as often as needed with less discomfort and less chance of infection than occurs with a traditional intravenous catheter (IV).
Since the IVAD is placed under the skin, your child can take part in play, school, and water activities once it is healed.
The drawing at the right shows the most common sites for IVAD placement. Your child's doctor will decide the best place to put the IVAD in your child.
Having the IVAD placed
Your child will be taken to the operating room to have the IVAD placed. Your child will be asleep and will not feel this being done.
The doctor will make two incisions (cuts). The first will be to locate the vein into which the catheter will be placed. The second will be to make a pouch for the access portion of the catheter.
Once the IVAD is in place, the only thing you will see is a small "bump" under the skin where the portal is placed.
How does an IVAD work?
All parts of the IVAD are put under the skin. There is no opening in the skin while not in use.
The drawing below shows how the IVAD allows fluids or drugs to be given right into the blood stream.
When your child needs fluid and drugs given or blood drawn, a special needle will be put through the skin into the IVAD to "access" it. Since the needle does go through the skin, a needle "stick" will be felt. Also, there may be a feeling of pressure when the needle punctures the IVAD. The needle may be secured with a dressing and left in place for up to seven days. Some children may wish to use a numbing medicine at the site before being accessed. Ask you doctor about this.
After the fluids or drugs have been given, saline and Heparin® solutions are used to flush the port. (Saline flushes any medicine or blood out of the port). Heparin® is a drug that keeps your child's blood from clotting in the catheter and blocking the IVAD. Once the Heparin® has been flushed, the needle is taken out.
NOTE: Sometimes blood cannot be drawn from the IVAD and your child will need to get blood drawn by fingerstick or from a vein.
Home care of an IVAD
Since the IVAD is under the skin, it needs very little care.
- Once the incisions have healed, the skin over the bump needs only normal washing between uses.
- A bandage is not needed.
- To keep the port open between uses, it should be flushed with Heparin®. The IVAD will be flushed after each use and at least once every four weeks. This may be done when you visit your child's doctor or by a Home Health nurse or you may be trained to do this at home. It is important that the port is kept flushed and open.
- Look closely at the area each day and check it for bruising, warmth, redness, or drainage.
Call your child's doctor if:
- The "bump" seems to have moved.
- You see bruising, swelling, redness, or drainage.
- It hurts to touch after it is healed.
- Your child's temperature is greater than 101.5 F or a temperature at which your doctor has told you to call.
This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.