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How to Care for the Jackson-Pratt Drain

Top Surgery Post Op Care

Top Surgery Post Op Care

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The Jackson-Pratt (JP) drain is a special tube that prevents body fluid from collecting near the site of your surgery. The drain pulls this fluid (by suction) into a bulb. The bulb can then be emp-

tied and the fluid inside measured and recorded on the attached form below.


At first, this fluid is bloody. Then, as your wound heals, the fluid changes to light pink, light

yellow, or clear. The drain will stay in place until less than 30 cc (about 2 table- spoons) of fluid

can be collected in a 24-hour period.


Caring for the JP drain is easy. Depending on how much fluid drains from your surgical site, you

will need to empty the bulb every 8 to 12 hours. The bulb should be emptied when it is half full.

Before you are discharged from the hospital, your nurse will show you how to


  • empty the collection bulb 

  • record the amount of fluid collected 

  • squeeze the bulb flat and plug so that the suction works again 

  • keep the drain site clean and free of infection

How to Empty the Drain

1. Wash your hands well with soap and water.


2. Strip the tubing.


3. Pull the plug out of the bulb.


4. Pour the fluid inside the bulb into a

measuring cup.


5. Clean the plug with alcohol. Then squeeze the bulb flat. While the bulb is flat, put the plug back into the bulb. The bulb should stay flat after it is plugged so that the vacuum suction can restart.


If you can’t squeeze the bulb flat and plug it at the same time, use a hard, flat surface (such as a table) to help you press the bulb flat while you replug it.


6. Measure how much fluid you collected. Write the amount of drainage, and the date and time you collected it, on the JP drainage chart at the end of this document.


7. Flush the fluid down the toilet.

How to Care for the Drain Site

Leave bandage over drain site and keep dry (IF THE BANDAGE COVERING THE DRAIN

BECOMES WET OR LOOSENS – PEEL OFF THE BANDAGE and follow these instructions:

1. Wash your hands well with soap and water.


2. Remove the dressing from around the drain. Use soap and water or 0.9 percent normal saline (on a gauze or cotton swab) to clean the drain site and the skin around it. 


3. When the drain site is clean and dry, put a new dressing around the drain. Put surgical tape on the dressing to hold it down against your skin.

4. Place the old dressing into the trash.

Toubleshooting Drain Problems:

Sometimes, a large amount of fluid may leak from around the drain site, making the gauze dressing

completely wet. If this happens, use soap and water to clean the area. Verify that the bulb drain is

secured and “flat” to provide the needed suction. And change bandage as explained above.

Another potential side effect is the development of a clot within the drain. This appears as a dark,

stringy lining. It could prevent the drainage from flowing through the tube. If this happens “STRIP THE


Stripping the Drain:

1. Wash your hands.

2. Hold tube near body to secure tube so it won’t pull from the body.


3. Use a moist napkin or paper towel or an alcohol wipe and squeeze the tube away

from the body and squeeze towards the bulb. This should create suction and move

any clot or stuck fluid in the tube.

How to Check for Infection

Watch the skin around the drain for these signs of infection:

• increased redness

• increased pain

• increased swelling

Other signs of infection:

• fever greater than 101 ºF

• cloudy yellow, tan, or foul-smelling drainage

Report any of these symptoms to Dr. Hazen as soon as possible. If you have questions or concerns, please call Dr. Hazen’s office at 917-301-6563.

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