Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Drain Placement, Generally



Drains (soft rubber tubes) are typically placed in wounds to prevent the accumulation of fluid under a suture line that can cause infection, contribute to wound dehiscence (come apart), or delay healing. Drains provide a pathway for trapped fluid to escape from a wound. They are placed at various time during surgery, usually before closure of the wound. There are a multitude of types and styles of drains. Some are passive and simply allow a portal for fluid to escape. Some provide active suction.

Your vet will decide whether a drain is needed in a wound, and choose the type of drain. Generally, a drain is preferred, as extra drainage is often better than not enough. A properly placed drain allows drainage to occur, and minimizes swelling of and drainage from the suture line.

Consider Potential Side Effects & Complications

Rarely, a drain may introduce infection into an area by wicking bacteria into the wound. However, this is generally not a problem if they are placed correctly and maintained.

Consider Reasons Not To Use This Treatment

Drains are unnecessary in small simple wounds. They may also be unnecessary where compression is provided by a leg bandage.

Is It working? Timeframe for effect

Drains are typically placed in a wound at surgery and left in at the discretion of the surgeon. In our practice, this is often 5-7 days, but it depends entirely on the wound.

Questions To Ask My Vet

  • What do I need to do to ensure that the drain is working properly?

Helpful terms & topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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