What Is an Implanted Epidural Portal?

An epidural portal (or port) is a implanted device, which allows access to the epidural space in your spine. It is used for the delivery of medications for pain management. A port is a small, stainless steel disc (about the size of a half dollar) with a raised septum in the center. Because the section is raised, it is easily felt through the surface of the skin. The port is usually implanted under the skin on the chest.

Attached to the base of the port is a narrow flexible tube, called a catheter. The catheter runs beneath the skin from the epidural space in the space around to the front of the chest where it is attached to the port. Since the entire device is placed under the skin, the risk of infection is greatly reduced. The septum is made of a remarkable self sealing rubber material. Over years of use, the septum may be punctured many hundereds of times and reseals itself instantly after use. This procedure is done only after a trial of epidural medications has been proven to be useful in managing your pain.

How quickly can I expect pain relief?

Once the epidural port is placed, an infusion of medications (local anesthetics and/or narcotics) is initiated. These medications should bring about pain relief within minutes. It may, however, take a few days to adjust the dose for the optimal pain relief.