Printer Friendly Version Email A Friend Add This Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size

Hemovac drain


What to Expect at Home

A Hemovac drain was placed under your skin during surgery. This drain removes any blood or other fluids that might build up in this area. You can go home with the drain still in place.

Your doctor will tell you how often you need to empty the drain. Your nurse will show you how to empty and take care of your drain. The following instructions will help you at home. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or nurse.

Emptying Your Drain

Items you will need are:

  • A measuring cup
  • A pen and a piece of paper

To empty your drain:

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water.
  • Unpin the Hemovac drain from your clothes.
  • Remove the stopper or plug. The Hemovac drain will expand. Do NOT let the stopper or the top of the drain opening touch anything.
  • Pour all of the liquid from the drain into the measuring cup. You may need to turn it over 2 or 3 times.
  • Place the Hemovac drain on a clean, flat surface. Press down on it with 1 hand until the drainage container is flat.
  • While holding the container flat with 1 hand, put the stopper back into the spout with the other hand.
  • Pin the Hemovac drain back onto your clothes.
  • Write down the date, time, and the amount of drainage you poured out of the container. Bring this information with you to your first doctor visit after you are discharged from the hospital.
  • Pour the fluid into the toilet and flush.
  • Wash your hands well.
Changing Your Dressing

Items you will need are:

  • Two pairs of clean, unused medical gloves
  • Five or 6 cotton swabs
  • Gauze pads
  • Clean soapy water
  • Plastic trash bag
  • Surgical tape
  • Waterproof pad or bath towel

Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands, and put on clean medical gloves. Loosen the tape carefully, and take off the old bandage. Throw the old bandage into a plastic trash bag. Look for any new redness, swelling, bad odor, or pus.

Use a cotton swab dipped in the soapy water to clean the skin around the drain. Do this 3 or 4 times, using a new swab each time.

Take off the first pair of medical gloves and put them in the plastic trash bag. Put on the second pair.

Put a new bandage around the site where the drain goes in. Use surgical tape to hold it down against your skin. Tape the tubing to the bandages. Throw all used supplies in the trash bag. Wash your hands well.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • The stitches that hold the drain to your skin are coming loose or are missing.
  • The tube falls out.
  • Your temperature is higher than 100 °F, or 38.0 °C.
  • Your skin is very red where the tube comes out (a small amount of redness is normal).
  • There is drainage from the skin around the tube site.
  • There is more tenderness and swelling at the drain site.
  • Your drainage is cloudy or has a bad odor.
  • Drainage increases for more than 2 days in a row.
Care Points
Surgical wound care

Altman GB, ed. Skin integrity and wound care. Delmar’s Fundamental and Advanced Nursing Skills. 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Thomson; 1999:chap 9.

Related Taxonomy

Review Date: 12/2/2008
Reviewed By: Robert J. Fitzgibbons, Jr., MD, FACS, Harry E. Stuckenhoff Professor of Surgery, Chief of General Surgery, and Associate Chairman, Department of Surgery, Creighton University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Home Page
Why Choose Us
Website Terms of Use

Visitor & Patient Info
Patient Portal
We Speak Your Language
Patient Privacy
Contact Us

Find a Physician
Medical Services
Maimonides In the News
Directions & Parking

Medical Education
Career Opportunities
Nurses & Physicians
Staff Intranet Access
Maimonides Medical Center    |    4802 Tenth Avenue    |    Brooklyn, NY 11219    |    718.283.6000    |