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How to Care For Your Biliary Drain

You have had a drain placed in your biliary system, which you will need to care for until it is removed. This will include daily flushing the tube as well as cleaning the tube site and changing the dressing. You may need to keep an external drain for an extended period of time (typically four to six weeks), so it will be important for you to understand how to properly care for the drain. This tube will need to exchanged every three  months.

Contact Us

Speak to our clinical coordinator for any of your treatment concerns.

Hours: Mon-Fri 8 am–5 pm 
Phone: 801-581-2967
After-Hours Hospital paging operator: 801-581-2121 
Ask for the interventional radiology resident on call.

Flushing Your Drain

You will flush the drain with 5–10cc of sterile saline daily as instructed. Flushing the drain will keep the tube functioning properly. After flushing, empty the drainage bag and record the output.

  1. Turn the three-way stopcock off to the drainage bag.
  2. Clean the flushing port with alcohol and attach the flush syringe.
  3. Gently inject the flush.
  4. Turn the stopcock off to the flushing port and open to the bag.

It will also be important to change the dressing and clean around the tube daily. Remove the dressing and clean around the tube with sterile saline using a cotton ball or Q-tip. Place a clean gauze pad over the tube site and secure it with tape.

If the tube site becomes red, irritated or you notice drainage around the tube, please contact the nurse from interventional radiology or your doctor.

Please let us know if:

  1. The output from your drain suddenly stops.
  2. The output is more than 500 ml. per day.

Both of these situations should be evaluated by a physician.

Replacing Fluids

PLEASE NOTE: It is very important to replace your daily biliary output with extra oral fluids. Gatorade or flavored Pedialyte are good fluid replacements as they contain some of the electrolytes you may lose in biliary fluid. For example if you measure 350cc of biliary output, you should drink an additional 350cc of Gatorade on top of what you might normally drink that day.

Again, note if your daily output exceeds 500cc please notify us.

When Should You Call Your Doctor?

Call us if you experience any of the following:

  • If your tube does not flush or the flush comes out around the tube site when flushing the tube.    
  • If bile or blood is leaking around the tube site.
  • If the skin around the tube is red, irritated, or a foul discharge is noted.
  • If you have chills and or a fever over 101 F.
  • If you have nausea/vomiting or develop unusual pain around the tube or unexplained abdominal pain.

If these symptoms occur and your tube has been capped, uncap your tube and connect it to the drainage bag.

Daily Reminders

  1. Flush drain daily as instructed.
  2. Decompress the suction and empty the drainage bag.
  3. Daily record the net output on a log sheet. Please remember to subtract out the flush before recording the net output.
  4. Change the drain site dressing daily.