Point-of-care (POC) ultrasound is helping to improve the quality of life for metastatic breast cancer patients in the West Midlands.
Fundraising efforts by Breast Friends Solihull and the University Hospitals Birmingham Charity have helped to pay for a FUJIFILM SonoSite SII ultrasound system which enables chemotherapy patients to be fitted with portacaths instead of traditional peripherally-inserted central catheters (PICC lines).
Mike Hammond, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham Charity, said: “PICC lines provide an effective route for the delivery of chemotherapy drugs, but can be quite restrictive on a patient’s lifestyle.
“They require weekly appointments to flush the lines and they prevent patients from swimming, for example.
“We wanted to offer our patients a better solution – subcutaneous portacath lines – that eliminate these issues.
“Ultrasound guidance is essential for placing and accessing these semi-permanent catheters, but, unfortunately, there was no funding within the trust to purchase a POC ultrasound system for oncology outpatients.”
Matt Fowler, an advanced clinical practitioner in the oncology department, added: “Because the portacath is sutured under the skin, it doesn’t require a dressing and only needs flushing once a month. This means that patients can swim, go on holiday, and have a generally-improved quality of life without having to worry about having a weekly line flush.
“Many patients say it helps to improve their body image as well, which can be important in helping them through their treatment.”