What is a surgical drain?

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A surgical drain is typically used after a surgical procedure or used to help deal with a collection of fluids or treat an infection such as an abscess. Having a drain sounds frightening for many individuals but the device can actually hasten the healing process and help prevent the development of complications.

It is important to note that a surgical drain is placed in order to keep fluid or infectious material from accumulating at the site of surgery. The drain functions by draining fluids away and out of the body similar to a plumbing drain.

A close look on a surgical drain

A surgical drain can be placed during surgery or as an outpatient procedure. The drains are often placed in interventional radiology in which the doctor utilizes an X-ray device or scanning machine to ensure that the drain is in its proper place.

Surgical drain
If an individual is sent home with a surgical drain, it is vital to protect it and make sure that it does not dangle freely or in such a way that it could be removed accidentally.

There are various types of surgical drains that range from chest tubes that keep fluid from accumulating around the heart after open heart surgery or small-sized bulb drains that provide mild suction. The drain utilized is contingent on the surgery, preference of the doctor and the site of the surgery. In most cases, one surgical drain is used while several are used in some cases.

A surgical drain is not painful to have in place but they can cause uneasiness depending on the size and position. In most cases, the pain is mild but if the drain is larger, the greater the likelihood for causing pain.

Removal of a surgical drain

A surgical drain is designed to be removed without the need for further surgery or additional procedures. They may leave the body via the surgical incision or a small-sized incision made specifically for the drain. The drain usually has sutures that hold it in place to prevent it from being dislodged accidentally.

Once there is no drainage coming out or the drain is no longer needed, it can be taken out by excising the sutures and steadily pulling the drain out. This procedure is performed by a nurse or doctor, depending on the type of drain in place and the reason for the drain. If there is resistance while removing the drain, the procedure is stopped until it can be performed safely.

How to care for a surgical drain at home

If an individual is sent home with a surgical drain, it is vital to protect it and make sure that it does not dangle freely or in such a way that it could be removed accidentally. There are some drains that can be removed accidentally if too much weight is placed on them.

Some individuals utilize bandage tape to keep the drain close to the incision and prevent it from being removed accidentally. Just be careful when removing the tape so that the drain is not accidentally removed.

Always wash hands before touching the incision or drain. Clean the area around the drain gently in the shower using mild soap and rinse thoroughly. Monitor the area around the drain for signs of infection.

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