What Are BLAKE Drains?

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BLAKE drains are a special type of silicon, radiopaque drain used post-open-heart surgery to help patients recover by removing excess fluid around the lungs. They are manufactured by Ethicon, Inc. in Somerville, New Jersey. Patients with BLAKE drains must follow special precautions and care for the drains as specified by their doctor.


BLAKE drains come in many sizes and different formations, but generally, the silicon drains are very flexible -- they have all but replaced the stiff PVC tubes that were once the standard for such procedures. The devices are characterized by a solid center with four channels running down the sides. Most of the drains also have a hub, extension tubing and an adapter that are all made of silicon. Drains are available in flat, fluted and hubless varieties, among others.


After a patient undergoes open-heart surgery, there is a danger that excess fluids will build up around the lungs, putting the patient in danger of cardiac arrest. BLAKE drains are installed to relieve the pressure of the fluid buildup. There is no set time for how long BLAKE drains will be left in; this varies from patient to patient. Patients must carefully write down the amount of fluid being drained each day.


BLAKE drains must be covered with dressings in order to keep them secure. Patients must change the dressings every other day in order to keep them sanitary and in proper working condition. Patients must also strip the drains twice a day to prevent clogging. Patients with a BLAKE drain should be sponge bathed by a caretaker until the drains are taken off. You can pin the drains to your clothing to prevent them from dragging or becoming entangled.


Monitor the drainage fluid daily -- a dramatic decrease in fluid being emitted from the drain could indicate that the device has become clogged. If your drain pops out or comes loose, you should call a medical professional as soon as possible; in the meantime, you can put a petroleum jelly-covered gauze over the site of the drain and cover that with a dry gauze pad. If you have questions about the drain, or feel it is not working properly, call your physician.


Ginger Yapp

Ginger Yapp has been writing professionally since 2006, specializing in travel and film topics. Her work has appeared in such publications as "USA Today" and online at Hotels.com. Yapp also has experience writing and editing for a small California newspaper. She earned her B.A. in film and media studies and has worked as an ESL teacher at an international school.