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Common Tubes and Lines (7249)

Common Tubes and Lines (7249) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Cardiology, Cardiovascular Surgery


Common Tubes and Lines

There are tubes, lines, and monitors that you may have after surgery. Drains remove fluids from
the body. Lines are used to give fluids and medicines. Monitors measure how your heart and
lungs are doing. Below is a list of some of the tubes, lines, and monitors that you may have after

ξ Arterial Line (or A-line) is a tube
in an artery used to measure your
blood pressure. It is also used to
draw blood for the lab without
having to stick you with a needle.
This line is most often in your
radial artery in your wrist. It can
be in your femoral artery in your
groin or brachial artery in your

ξ Blood Pressure Cuff is a device
that goes around your arm, wrist,
or leg to measure your blood
pressure. The cuff inflates and
deflates to get a blood pressure
reading. The first time it inflates it
will get tight. After that, it will not
tighten as much.

ξ Chest Tube is a tube that goes
from your chest to a container. It
drains any fluid from around your
heart and lungs. The number and
location of chest tubes you have
depends on your surgery. Most
often, chest tubes are removed 2-3
days after surgery.

ξ Endotracheal Tube (or ET tube)
is often called a “breathing tube.”
The ET tube goes into your trachea
(windpipe) through your mouth
and connects to a ventilator. It
does the work of breathing for you
while you are under anesthesia.
The ET tube also protects your
airway. This tube is placed in your
trachea when you are under
anesthesia in surgery. It stays in
place when you are moved to the
Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit on
B4/5. It is removed when you are
awake and able to follow all
commands and breathe well. This
may take a few hours or many
hours (maybe a day). You cannot
talk while the ET tube is in place.
This is normal.

ξ Foley Catheter is a tube that goes
into your urethra. Urine drains
from the bladder through the
urethra. This tube drains and
measures your urine while you are
under anesthesia. You may feel
the urge to void while this tube is
in place. This is normal. This
catheter is removed about 1-2 days
after surgery to decrease the risk of


ξ Intravenous Catheter (or IV line)
is a tube in a vein that can be used
to give fluids and medicines. IV
lines can be in many places. Most
patients will have 1-2 small IVs in
their hand, wrist, or arm. Patients
often have a large IV in their neck.
This is called an intrajugular
catheter (IJ). This IJ line is
removed as soon as possible to
decrease the risk of infection.

ξ Nasal Cannula is a tube with
prongs that goes into your nose to
give you oxygen. Most patients
need oxygen for a short time after
surgery. The oxygen will be
stopped and the tube removed
when you no longer need it.

ξ Pulse Oximeter (or pulse ox) is a
device that clips to your finger or
earlobe. It has a red light at the
end of it. It measures the oxygen
level in your body.

ξ Sequential Stockings are special
stockings placed on your legs. If
you have a vein removed during
surgery, it will not be on the leg
that the vein was taken from.
These stockings are attached to a
machine that inflates and deflates
in a routine pattern. This helps
your blood flow and decreases the
risk of blood clots.

ξ Swan-Ganz Catheter (or Swan)
is a tube that is placed into the IJ
catheter in your neck. It threads
down to your heart. It allows your
doctor to check your heart closely
after surgery. It is most often
removed the day after surgery.

ξ Telemetry uses an
electrocardiogram, also called
ECG or EKG. Pads will be
attached to your chest. A monitor
will be attached to these pads.
This shows your heart rate and
electrical activity. It allows your
doctor and nurses to see what your
heart is doing after surgery.

ξ Temporary Pacemaker is a
device with a small wire that is
attached to the heart and exits the
chest. There may be more than 1
wire. A pacemaker can be used to
adjust your heart rate. After heart
surgery, your heart may need help
setting its normal pace. Often, this
is short-term. In some cases, a
patient may need a permanent
pacemaker. Temporary wires are
removed before you leave the
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7249