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A drain is a small tube that lets unwanted fluid out of the body. A pigtail drain is a type of drain used to let fluid out of the area around the lungs or abdomen.
A special doctor, called a radiologist or surgeon, will put a drain in if your child needs it. If the drain is placed outside surgery, they numb the area where the drain is placed. The procedure usually does not hurt. If the drain is placed during surgery, your child will be under anesthesia.
Your child’s pigtail drain is 1 of the types below. Which type depends on where it is. Your child might have:
If your child has a pigtail drain, you will need to take care of it when you are not in the hospital. You can take care of it by flushing it and changing the dressing. It is important to flush the drain at least once a day. This prevents clots and helps the fluid drain easily.
Change the dressing:
Preparing for the flush
Flush the drain
Preparing for the dressing change
1. Remove the old dressing
2. Clean the drain area
3. Put on the new dressing
Call the care team if your child has a fever or you notice any signs of infection in the area around the drain. Signs of infection include:
Do not let the drain go under water.
If the drain comes out, cover the area with sterile gauze. Do not try to put the drain back in. Call your child’s care team.
Also, call your child’s care team if any of the following things happen:
Reviewed: August 2022