Common Tubes and Lines after Vascular Surgery
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 surgery:
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
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 very tight.
After that, it will not tighten as much.
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 in 1-2 days.
Drain (or JP drain) is a device that removes
excess fluid. The number and location of
drains you have depends on your surgery.
You may go home with the drain. The nurse
will teach you how to take care of the drain if
you go home with it.
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 is usually removed at the end of
surgery before you leave the operating room.
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. You may feel the urge
to urinate while this tube is in place. This
can be normal; check with your nurse.
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 may also have a
large IV in their neck. This is called an
intrajugular catheter (IJ). The IJ line is used
for lab draws, to give fluids, and for checking
Nasal Cannula is a tube with prongs that
goes into your nose to give you oxygen.
Most patients need oxygen for a time after
surgery. The oxygen will be stopped and the
tube removed when you no longer need it.
Nasogastric Tube (or NG tube) is a tube
that goes into your nose, down your
esophagus, and into your stomach. The NG
tube is able to suck air and gastric juices out
of your stomach. The doctors and nurses will
measure the amount of liquid that comes out
of the tube.
Nerve Catheter (or Nerve Block) is a tube
that goes into your hip or groin to give you
pain medicine. The medicine numbs the
surgical site. The block should lower the
amount of pain you feel. This will help to
decrease the amount of narcotic pain
medicines you need.
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.
Sequential Compression 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 blood clots.
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
Vacuum-Assisted Wound Closure (or
Wound Vac) is a special dressing applied to
wounds to help healthy tissue grow in your
wound. A foam dressing is put over the
wound. The foam dressing is covered and a
tube is attached. The other end of the tube is
attached to a vacuum canister that collects 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 © 9/2017. University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7718