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When Do You Require Surgical Drain?

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A surgical drain is a small plastic tube that is sometimes used after an operation. It is put inside you during the surgery by the doctor and will stick out of your body until it is removed. Generally, it is removed a few days later.

Drains have been used in surgery for several years to remove body fluids thereby preventing the accumulation of serous fluid and improving wound healing. You can read this article to learn more about surgical drain tubes.

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Some operations involve quite 'juicy' parts of the body: areas where the body usually makes lots of fluid or juices. An example would be surgery on someone's armpit (axilla): this is often done as part of breast cancer surgery. The armpit makes a lot of fluid after being operated on. Here is the list of different operations when there is a need for surgical drain:

  • Operations around the neck, including on the thyroid gland.
  • Operations on the armpit (axilla).
  • Operations are done in an emergency for something which has ruptured inside you.
  • Some types of brain surgery.
  • Operations on the stomach (the drain often then comes out your nose and is called a 'nasogastric tube').
  • Operations on the bladder (the drain then usually comes out of the urine tube and is called a 'urinary catheter').

Your surgeon will discuss with you before the operation whether you will need a surgical drain and where it will be.

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