Caring for Your Drain

This page explains how to care for the drain you had placed. Flushing your drain helps to prevent drain failure. Flush your drain as instructed each day. Or, flush it based on the schedule given to you.

If your drain has a 3-way stopcock, you can irrigate the drain without disconnecting the bag. When using a stopcock, keep in mind that the switch (which may be marked with the word “off”) points to the channel that is off. On all models, the switch is the longest part of the stopcock.

To Flush the Drain

Follow these steps:

1. Turn the stopcock switch so it is pointing toward the drainage bag. This means the word “off” and/or the longest part of the stopcock is closest to the drainage bag. This position allows you to inject fluid into the tube from the flush port.


2. Instill the amount of fluid (most times about 10 cc) your doctor told you to use.

3. Turn the stopcock so it is once again pointed at the flush port. This means the word “off” and/or the longest part of the stopcock is not pointing to your body or the drainage bag. The longest part is closest to the flush port. Your drain will now drain into the bag.


If your instructions include clamping the tube or allowing it to drain internally, turn the stopcock switch so it is pointed at your body. This means the word “off” and/or the longest part of the stopcock is closest to your body. This position closes the channel that is draining from your body.

Use this position ONLY to change or empty the bag, as it will prevent drainage from your tube.

Care Instructions

  • Flush your drain with normal saline: 

 Daily or every 12 hours, per physician instructions

  • Keep dressing clean and dry.
  • You may shower, but keep your drain covered. No tub baths or soaking, as this may cause fluid to track in along the drain.
  • Change the dressing daily with normal saline as instructed by your nurse.
  • If your dressing gets wet or soiled, you must change the dressing.
  • If your drain position changes (more of the drain is visible outside of your body than before) or it falls out, call your doctor right away and cover the wound with a dressing.
  • If the wound becomes reddened, tender, with a green discharge, or you develop a persistent fever greater than 101°F, call your doctor.
  • Purchase additional supplies at a medical supply center or a drug store

If you have any questions or need to reschedule an appointment, please feel free to contact the Interventional Radiology Office at 802- 847-8359. Our business hours are Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Someone is available to take your call after hours for emergencies.

This information is provided by the Fletcher Allen, Department of Radiology, Division of Interventional Radiology and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact your health care provider.