How to Recognize an Infected Drain following Surgery

A surgical drain is a vital component in certain types of surgery in which the wound site may give rise to considerable amount of secretions, blood or else lymphatic fluid.  If the surgical drain is absent, such excess fluid can collect and could give rise to formation of fluid filled cysts such as seroma or else hematoma in the case of bleeding. Although insertion of surgical drains usually do not cause any adverse outcomes, failing to adhere to proper hygienic techniques may lead to drain infections which can delay the wound healing and give rise to post-surgical complications.

Considering the possible adversities that may take place following surgical drain infections, it is vital for both the patient as well as the care givers to known its early manifestations and this article hopes to shed light on to some of the common manifestations when such infections ensue.

Redness and swelling at the site of drain insertion:

This could be some of the earliest signs although skin reactions to drain material may also lead to such manifestations. But, when it is associated with other signs that are described below, it may well be suggestive of a possible drain site infection.

Appearance of pus in the drain fluid:

The fluid drained through a surgical drain may be either red, pink in color, clear or else off white in appearance. But, thick yellowish drain may be indicative of a possible infection either in the drain site or else in the wound per se. Thus, urgent medical attention should be obtained in case the drain is being managed at home as further progression may give rise to systemic complications as well.

Foul smell:

When the surgical site or the site in which the drain has been inserted gives rise to foul smelling discharge, it is most often indicates an infection and specific treatment should be initiated in such instances.

High fever:

Occurrence of high fever is another sign for a possible drain infection although it may be caused by many other reasons as well. But, what needs to be emphasized is its correlation with other manifestations which may be present along with the fever.

Unusual pain:

A pain manifesting at the drain site may also be related to drain site infections although as with fever it should be considered in association with other signs which may be present during that time.

Apart from these manifestations, one should not neglect any other manifestations related to the drain site and should seek medical advice in order to exclude any infective focus.