Biliary Catheter Care

What problems might occur with my biliary catheter?
Infection is the main problem that can occur. You can develop a skin infection around the catheter or a bile duct infection. The skin infection can be prevented by taking good care of the skin around the catheter. A bile duct infection occurs if the catheter gets blocked. The best way to avoid this is to keep your biliary catheter flushed.

How do I take proper skin care?

  1. Keep the skin around your biliary catheter dry. You can take showers if you cover the area with plastic wrap. Tape the edges of the plastic wrap to your skin so that water cannot get under it. If the area does get wet, dry the skin completely.
  2. Keep the area around your catheter clean. Clean the area every day or every other day with a cotton swab that has been moistened with peroxide. Always wash your hands before you clean the catheter site.
  3. Keep the skin around your biliary catheter covered. After cleaning the site, cover the area with a clean bandage or dressing. Change it if it becomes wet.

What are the signs of a skin infection?
Redness, soreness, and swelling of the skin around the catheter area signs of infection. If you notice any of these, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the site more often. If you were cleaning the site and changing the bandage every other day, do it once a day. If you did it every day, do it twice a day.
  2. Apply antibiotic ointment to the skin around the catheter after each time you clean it.
  3. If your symptoms do improve, keep up the extra care for one week and then go back to your usual care routine.

What can I do to keep my biliary catheter from becoming blocked?
These are some instructions to reduce the risk of your biliary catheter becoming blocked:

  1. Flush your chatter with sterile saline as your doctor or radiologist recommends. This keeps the inside of the catheter as clean as possible.
  2. f your biliary catheter is connected to a bag which drains bile to the outside, rinse that bag out with water every day. It is good to have two bags so that you can wear one while rinsing the other.
  3. In most cases your catheter should be changed every 2-3 months. Keep your appointment to have this done. It is much easier to change the catheter than it was to place the original one. You can usually have this done as an outpatient.

What are the signs of a bile duct infection and how do I know if my biliary catheter is blocked?
The signs of bile duct infection are fever, pain and chills. A sign that your catheter is blocked is leakage around the catheter at the skin site.

What do I do if either of these occur?
Call your interventional radiologist and/or your primary doctor immediately. In most cases, your catheter will need to be changed and you may need an antibiotic. You may even need to be admitted to the hospital. If your tube is capped or turned off, uncap it and connect it to an external drainage bag.

What supplies do I need to take care of my biliary drainage catheter?
Hydrogen peroxide, cotton swabs or cotton balls, gauze padssurgical tape,antibiotic ointment, sterile saline, syringes, needles, drainage bags. You can find these at drug stores and hospital supply stores.

How active can I be with my biliary catheter?
You will be sore for 1-2 weeks after your catheter is first inserted. This will limit your activity. You should ten continue to avoid any activity that causes a pulling sensation or pain around the catheter. Consult your primary physician about special diet instructions.

Are there any other times I should call my doctor about my catheter?
Yes, and these are the reasons:

  1. Your catheter becomes dislodged, or broken.
  2. You have stitches and they become loose.
  3. Your catheter begins to leak.
  4. There is blood in or around your catheter.

Which doctor do I call about my biliary catheter?
Your catheter was placed by an interventional radiologist. He/she works with your other doctors to take care of you once you have the biliary catheter. Your team of doctors may prefer you contact your interventional radiologist directly if you have a problem or question relating to your catheter. Ask your primary doctor whom you should call when you need help or advice with your catheter.

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