A biliary drain allows bile to flow out from a blocked bile duct into a collection bag outside the body. Bile is a liquid made by the liver. It helps digest fats. Blocked or narrowed bile ducts can stop the flow of bile and cause yellowing of the skin (jaundice) or an infection of the liver.
The drain is a thin plastic tube (catheter) that the doctor places in the bile duct. From there the tube passes out through a drain site on your skin and into a collection bag. The bag may be attached to a belt or strapped to the leg. About 0.5 to 1 L (2 to 4 cups) of bile will collect in the bag each day. The amount should be fairly constant from day to day.
The bile that comes out of the drain may look bloody at first, but it will soon change to its normal yellow-green colour.
How long the drain stays in place depends on what caused the problem with your bile duct. Your doctor will discuss this with you.
Your doctor or ostomy nurse can answer any questions you have about caring for your drain or bag.
You may have a bandage on your skin where the tube comes out of your body. Your doctor will tell you how often to change it. To change the bandage:
To keep the tube clear, flush it with sterile saline. Your doctor will tell you how and when to do this.
Caring for the bag
Empty the bile from your bag when it's about 2/3 full, or at least once a day.
If the bag breaks or tears, replace it as soon as possible.
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 28, 2018
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Howard B. Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
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