Jackson-Pratt Drainage Care Instructions

Offered at our convenient location in Raleigh, NC

Jackson-Pratt (JP) is a special tube that prevents body fluid from collecting or accumulating at or near the site of surgery.  The drain pulls this liquid by suction into a bulb (hand grenade). You can empty the bulb and measure the liquid inside. 

At first the liquid will be bloody, but, over time, the liquid will change to a light pink color and then yellow or light. Drainage will usually stay in place for about a week or until there is 30 cc (2 tablespoons) or less of fluid collected over a 24-hour period. 

Taking care of the JP drain is easy.  Depending on the amount of fluid draining from your surgical site, you will need to empty the bulb every 8 – 12 hours.  The bulb should be emptied when it is half full. Before being discharged, you will be shown how to empty the bulb and care for the drain. 

How To Empty The Drain

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Pull the bulb plug; (do not remove the bulb tube)
  3. Measure the fluid every day. There is a chart on the back of this instruction sheet for documentation/registration purposes. 
  4. Clean the cap with alcohol and then tighten the bulb. As long as the bulb is flat, replace the plug in the bulb. The bulb should remain flat after it is plugged in so that vacuum suction can restart.
  5. Flush the liquid down the toilet
  6. Wash your hands, please.

Other Instructions

Sometimes, a large amount of fluid can seep around the drain into the gauze or garment.  If this happens, keep gauze around the drain so the skin stays clean. 

You should clean around the tube once or twice a day with soap and water or hydrogen peroxide. Be sure to keep the suction in the bulb. Be sure to place antibiotic ointment at the exit site. 

Occasionally a clot may form inside the drain or you may see fatty tissue in the drain. You should “milk” the drain a few times a day to help the fluid continue to flow through the pipe.  You can also see some discharge around the pipe that may be yellow, white, or green. This is the body trying to “get rid” of the drain. 

If you develop a fever greater than 101 or have foul-smelling drainage fluid call Dr. Allen or the office.