Caring for Your Aspira* Drainage System
Your doctor has placed an Aspira* Drainage Catheter in your chest or your abdomen. This
allows extra fluid to drain that builds up around your lungs or in your abdomen at home. The
Aspira* Drainage catheter is a soft tube, the part that is inside your chest or abdomen has many
holes so that fluid can enter the catheter. A valve at the end of the catheter prevents fluid from
leaking out and stops air from getting into the catheter when you are not actively draining.
How to drain fluid from your Aspira* Drainage Catheter
Before you leave the hospital, you will be taught how to drain the catheter. You or your
caregiver should practice draining the fluid before you leave.
While at home, you should drain the fluid:
ξ Every 24-48 hours depending on your symptoms
ξ As directed by your doctor _________________
Getting Started: Preparing to Drain and Supplies you will need
1. Prepare a clean area on a table or counter to set up your supplies. Use a disinfecting
product to clean the work area.
2. Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 1 minute.
3. Open the pouch that has the drainage kit and place on the clean area.
**If your catheter is damaged, place the green slide clamp (in the drainage kit) above the
damaged area (close to where it enters your body). Call the Interventional Radiology Department
(see page 10).
To prevent damage, do not use anything sharp that may poke, cut or damage the catheter.
Remove dressing only if:
ξ It has been one week since you last changed the dressing.
ξ Your doctor has recommended that you change your dressing every time you drain fluid.
ξ The area under the dressing is moist.
**If you see redness, swelling, or fluid around the catheter call the Interventional Radiology
Department (see page 10).
Connecting to the Drainage Bag
1. Once the old dressing is removed. Wash your hands again with warm soapy water for 1
2. Remove the valve cap from the catheter valve. Throw this cap away.
3. While holding the end of your catheter in one hand, clean around the valve opening with
an alcohol pad. Scrub for at least 15 seconds. Be careful not to touch the end of the valve
with your fingers.
4. Attach the drainage line by pushing it onto the end of the catheter until you hear or feel a
click. Make sure the connection is secure.
Draining the Fluid
**Do not drain more than 1 full Aspira* bag (total 1000mL) from your chest at one time.
If you still feel short of breath after draining call Interventional Radiology Department. Do not
drain more than 2 full Aspira bags (total of 2000mL) from your abdomen at one time.
1. Place the bag on a flat surface below the level of your chest.
2. Gently squeeze the pump one time. It will slowly re-expand as fluid fills the pump. Let
fluid drain until the bag is full or the fluid stops flowing.
**If the pump does not re-expand or re- expands but does not fill with fluid, check the
connection between the catheter valve and drainage line. Gently squeeze the pump again. If this
doesn’t work, try again with a new drainage kit. If a new drainage kit does not start flow, call the
Interventional Radiology Department.
It is normal to feel some discomfort/pain or coughing when draining fluid from your chest. If this
happens, raise the bag to slow the drainage or disconnect the bag to stop the flow of fluid. If you
disconnect the bag, place the connecting end in your clean workspace.
To restart the flow of fluid, clean the valve with a new alcohol wipe, connect the bag to the
catheter valve and gently squeeze the pump. Do not reconnect a used bag that has been
disconnected for more than 30 minutes.
Complete your Drainage
1. When fluid flow stops or the bag is full, hold the catheter end with one hand and pinch
the wings of the connector (on the drainage bag line) with the other hand they should
easily pull apart
2. Allow any fluid left in the tube to drain into the bag. Set the bag aside.
3. Wipe the catheter valve with a new alcohol pad. Again, be careful not to touch the end of
the valve with your fingers.
4. Place the new valve cap (located in the dressing kit) on the catheter valve.
If it is time to change your dressing, go to the section titled “Changing your Dressing” on
If it is not time to change your dressing, tape the catheter to the skin where it is most
comfortable. Go to the section titled “How to Discard Fluid and Used Supplies” on page 8.
Changing your Dressing
You should change your dressing at least once a week or as often as you were told to by your
doctor or nurse. You should also change the dressing if the area under the clear dressing becomes
Supplies you will need:
1. Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 1 full minute.
**For the next step, you may need the help of a caregiver. Make sure the caregiver washes their
hands for 1 full minute before helping dress the exit site.
2. Peel open the dressing kit pouch.
**The gloves and items in the dressing kit are sterile. Do not touch any non-sterile surface such
as your skin, clothing, or furniture with your gloves.
3. Remove the gloves from the dressing kit pouch.
4. Pick up one glove at the cuff end and place it on your hand. Do not touch the glove with
your hand, only touch the cuff. Pick up the second glove with the newly gloved hand and
place it on your other hand.
5. Remove the sterile sheet from the pouch and place it on the clean workspace. Pull on the
corner sticking out of the edge of the sheet to open it.
6. Lay the sheet flat so you can see the dressing supplies.
7. Clean the skin around the catheter exit site with an alcohol pad. Allow skin to dry before
placing the dressing
**If you notice redness, swelling, oozing or have pain at the exit site, these may be signs of
infection. Call the Interventional Radiology Department.
8. Place the split gauze pad on the skin around the catheter.
9. If you change your dressing every time you drain, wind the catheter into loops and place
it over the split gauze pad. Cover the catheter with the gauze pads.
10. If you change your dressing less often than you drain, leave the catheter hanging. Place
gauze pad over the split gauze.
11. Hold the gauze, catheter, and split gauze pad in place with one hand.
12. Open the clear dressing and then remove the printed backing. Place the clear dressing over
the catheter and gauze. Make sure the dressing sticks to the skin around the gauze. Remove the
paper edge from the dressing while smoothing down the dressing edges.
**If you change your dressing every time you drain fluid, your dressing is now complete. Any
leftover supplies can be thrown away. You can go to the section titled “How to Discard Fluid and
Used Supplies” found on page 8.
If you change your dressing less often, continue with these final steps before going to the next
13. If you left the catheter hanging down, tape the rest of the catheter to the skin where it is most
comfortable using the tape strips.
How to Discard Fluid and Used Supplies
1. Write down the volume of drained fluid on the drainage record sheet provided on the last
page of this packet. Make sure you bring the drainage sheet with you to your next doctor
2. Over the toilet, cut or tear the corner of the drainage bag where the “cut or tear here to
empty” arrow is pointing.
3. Empty the fluid in the toilet. Flush the toilet.
4. Wrap the drainage line around the empty drainage bag. Place it in a small plastic bag and
throw it in the garbage. Do not place the used Aspira* Drainage Bag in a recycling
5. Throw all other used supplies in the garbage.
6. Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 1 full minute.
**If fluid spills, be sure to clean it up. Use soap and warm water for clothing and skin. Use
bleach for household items.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I shower with the catheter inside my
Yes, if the clear dressing is securely attached
to your skin, you can get it wet. The
dressing is made to keep moisture out. If
you think that moisture has gotten under the
dressing, remove it right away, clean, and
dry the area and put on a new dressing.
Please see, “Changing your Dressing.” Do
not bathe or allow the catheter to soak
under water in a pool, hot tub, etc.
How long will the catheter be in for?
The catheter is in until fluid stops draining
from your chest or abdomen. The amount of
time varies from days to months.
How do I order more supplies?
Call Symbius (Bard System) at 1-800-948-
1868 and they will assist in sending you
supplies. If you have Hospice involved in
your care, they take care of reordering your
How often do I need to change the
Change the dressing at least once a week or
as often as your doctor tells you to. You
should also apply a clean dressing if the area
under the clear dressing becomes wet or if
the clear dressing is damaged. Please see,
“Changing your Dressing” for a reference.
What should I do if the catheter
accidentally gets cut?
Place the green slide clamp between the
damaged area and your skin. Call the
Interventional Radiology Department
immediately. The catheter will need to be
repaired by your doctor.
When should I call the doctor?
Call the Interventional Radiology
ξ You are short of breath after you
ξ You feel that you need to drain
sooner than you were told.
ξ The amount of fluid drained changes
(higher or lower), color changes, or
there are lots of clots.
ξ If you develop a fever (body
temperature above 100.5 F°, notice
redness, swelling, oozing or have
pain at the exit site. These may be
signs of infection.
ξ You feel dizzy, light headed, blurred
vision, faint or weak while draining.
ξ You continue to have pain after
draining that doesn’t go away.
Interventional Radiology phone numbers:
If you have questions after reading this
handout call the Interventional Radiology
Department from 8:00am-4:00pm Monday
through Friday at (608)-263-9729 Prompt
#3. Ask to be connected to “IR Nurse
Coordinator” during normal business hours
or connected to “IR resident on-call” on
To watch a Video on Draining your
Aspira* Catheter go to this link:
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 © 10/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7707.