How Long Can a Percutaneous Drain Stay in?

Usually, patients may be able to lead a normal life with the catheter in place.
Usually, patients may be able to lead a normal life with the catheter in place.

Every patient’s situation is different, and it is not always easy to predict till when the percutaneous drain is required. Doctors who are treating the patient may give approximate duration depending on the patient’s condition.

Usually, percutaneous drains may need to stay in for a short period. However, sometimes, it may be kept for weeks or a month as part of treatment or till the purpose is sorted. The duration of the percutaneous drain usually depends on where it is placed and why it is placed.

If a drain needs to be in place for many months, it needs replacement every alternate month to avoid any clogging. It is possible that the patient may need further scans or X-rays to check that the collection of fluid has been drained completely. Usually, patients may be able to lead a normal life with the catheter in place.

What is a percutaneous drain?

A percutaneous drain is a small plastic tube that is sent into the body through the skin on the abdomen. This is typically performed through a very small incision. The procedure is usually done under the guidance of X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, or ultrasound (sound waves). Placing the drain using live images is much safer and involves less recovery time than conventional surgery. Some reasons why percutaneous drain may be required include:

  • Percutaneous drain help in removing fluid from the intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, or the urinary tract if leaks are diagnosed
  • It helps in resolving blockage in the urinary system, which may cause kidney problems, infections, or both.
  • It helps in draining infected blood under the skin.
  • It also helps in draining abscess (pockets of fluid that are infected or may become infected)

How is the percutaneous drainage procedure performed?

The percutaneous drainage procedure may vary depending on why it is required.

  • Usually, the patient may be placed under local anesthesia to numb the pain. Patient vitals are monitored throughout the procedure.
  • The radiologist will clean the skin with antiseptic to help avoid infection.
  • A small cut is made and the tube is inserted under the guidance of radiological equipment, such as X-ray, CT, or ultrasound.
  • Most of the time, a guidewire will be placed into the abscess to allow the correct positioning of a drainage tube (catheter). This will be connected to a drainage bag. The pus or fluid may simply be drained through a needle or plastic tube, which is then withdrawn altogether. Alternatively, it may be necessary to place a larger drainage tube into the abscess or fluid and attach it to the skin so that it can continue to drain for some days.
  • The procedure may be completed within an hour depending on the patient’s condition. Generally, placing the catheter in the affected area only takes a short time, and once in place, it should not hurt at all.
  • Post-procedure, the patient’s vitals are monitored until the anesthesia effect subsides. The patient may need to stay inward bed for a few hours until they recover
  • If the drainage catheter has been left in the body for the time being, then it may be attached to a collection bag. It may need to be emptied occasionally so that it does not become too heavy.

Risks and complications: 

  • Percutaneous drainage is normally a safe procedure; however, every procedure has its own risk, which may include:
  • Anesthesia risks like allergy, vomiting, or dizziness
  • Pain
  • Infection at the site of the procedure
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Damage to adjacent structures or underlying nerve (very rare)
  • Shivering attack (a rigor)
  • The tube may come out and the patient may remove it intentionally or unintentionally, which may require the repair procedure.


What percentage of the human body is water? See Answer
Angiography: Percutaneous Drain,