What Happens With an Ultrasound-Guided Drainage?

Written by amy rodriguez
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What Happens With an Ultrasound-Guided Drainage?
Ultrasound devices provide a view into the human body. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Past medical procedures for viewing internal body parts, such as large abscesses or fluid collections, involved major invasive surgery with many associated risks. Currently, ultrasound technology provides a view within the human body, as well as contributing to less invasive procedures for draining abscesses. However, ultrasound-guided drainage procedures still require preparation and recuperation

Ultrasound Definition

An ultrasound is an electronic device that bounces high frequency sound waves off of the human body. The sound wave frequencies convert into images on an attached screen, showing internal body details. Ultrasounds used for locating abscesses are especially helpful since they provide the doctor with important abscess shape information, such as size and depth within the body.

Drainage Preparation

Before the drainage procedure, medical personnel record the patient's vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature. Additionally, the patient's blood requires analysis for clotting abilities. The doctor needs to ensure that excess bleeding does not occur after the drainage procedure. Fasting is not necessary for this procedure, so eating and drinking the night before is permitted.

The Drainage Procedure

Typically, the doctor will position the patient on a hospital bed for the easiest access to the abscess. The doctor will determine the best placement area for the drainage tube by using an ultrasound guide across the abscess area. Medical personnel will sterilise the skin area, and apply anaesthesia for numbing the local area, once the doctor locates the drainage tube area. The doctor inserts the drainage tube, with the ultrasound guide's help, into an incision above the abscess. The tube will continue downward into the body until it enters the abscess fluid collection. Medical personnel secure the tube at the incision with a stitch. The stitch prevents the tube from moving or falling out. A drainage bag attaches to the outside portion of the tube for catching the fluid drainage.

After the Drainage Procedure

The patient will enter a recovery room with the drainage tube and bag still attached. Typically, the abscess should fully drain before the patient can return home. Medical personnel will monitor the fluid amount exiting the tube, as well as the patient's vital signs. Tube removal will occur once the abscess releases all the fluid. The medical personnel on duty will loosen the stitch securing the tube to the body and slide it out.


A slight risk of infection at the incision site is possible, but is easily healed with antibiotics. Small amounts of blood may escape the incision site, but any large blood releases may require a blood transfusion.

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