Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Please watch this entire video before caring for your drain.
This video will teach you how to take care of your surgical drain.
Surgical drains remove fluid from under your skin near your surgical site. This helps prevent infection and encourages healing.
A surgical drain consists of a drain tube that runs from your surgical site to a bulb that collects the fluid.
You strip the drain tube to keep it clear and remove any clots or blockages.
Then, you empty the bulb when it is half full or as instructed by your health care provider.
You will need: alcohol wipes, a measuring cup, and a drainage record sheet.
Be sure to wear disposable gloves if your health care provider says you should.
Be careful not to pull on the tubing. You should not feel any tugging where the tube enters your skin.
Step one, wash your hands with soap and water and then dry them.
Step two, put on disposable gloves if your health care provider says you should.
Step 3, look for clots or blockages that may prevent the fluid from flowing out of the tube and into the bulb.
Some clots may be hidden inside the tube under your skin
Step 4, loosen the clots by gently squeezing the tube surrounding them.
Step 5, use one hand to hold the drain tube in place where it leaves your skin.
Step 6, use your other hand to pinch the tube with an alcohol wipe between your finger and thumb.
Step 7, slide your pinched fingers along the tube to force any fluid out of the tube and into the bulb.
You may need to repeat steps five through seven several times to clear the tube.
Try not to let go of the tube between steps.
If fluid remains in the tube, or you accidentally let go, repeat steps five through seven using a new alcohol wipe.
Do not allow the bulb to become more than half-full.
Too much fluid in the bulb reduces its ability to remove fluid from underneath your skin.
Now you will begin emptying the bulb.
Step 8, hold the bulb lower than your incision so that fluid moves out of the tube and into the bulb.
Step 9, point the bulb away from your body. Never squeeze the bulb before taking the cap off
Step 10, remove the cap. Never touch the opening with your bare hands.
Step 11, hold the measuring cup under the bulb.
Step 12, turn the bulb upside down and squeeze the fluid into the cup.
Step 13, after removing the fluid, continue squeezing the bulb, and use a new alcohol wipe to clean the top.
Step 14, while still squeezing the bulb, put the cap back on the top.
The depressed bulb creates suction that continuously removes fluid from underneath your skin.
Step 15, read the amount of fluid in the measuring cup.
Step 16, write the amount on your record sheet.
Step 17, empty and rinse the cup as directed.
Keep the bulb below the level of your incision to help the fluid move out of the tube and into the bulb.
Contact your surgeon if you notice:
the amount of fluid suddenly increases or decreases; the odor of the fluid changes,
the fluid contains pus, or becomes thicker over time; your drain tube falls out, or your incision opens;
your incision is red, swollen, painful, or has pus coming out;
or, your temperature is one hundred and one degrees Fahrenheit or higher.