HF 7411

T-Tube Care After Transplant

Your transplant surgeon may need to place a small tube, called a T-tube, into the bile duct during your liver transplant. The T-tube is a small, rubber tube that sits in the bile duct and helps bile to drain out of your body into a small pouch, known as a bile bag. The transplant team can check the amount of bile being made by the new liver. The bile will drain into the bag. The bile drainage should be a deep gold to dark green color. The T-tube is attached to your skin with a stitch.


Most often, while you are still in the hospital the transplant team will take off the bag and put a cap on your tube. Some patients may need to still have the bag attached and the tube open even after they go home. Your transplant team will decide when you can cap the tube. The tube may also need to be reopened if there is a problem. Make sure you have supplies to open the tube and reattach the bag after you go home.

The T-tube with the cap on it will remain in place for about four months so that it can be used for testing and to allow the bile duct to heal.

The dressing around the tube should be changed at least once daily, and more often if it becomes moist. The transplant nurse will show you how to change the dressing without pulling out the T-tube. The transplant nurse will also show you how to repair the tube if it gets cracked.

When to Call

Call your transplant coordinator if:

  • T-tube gets pulled out (either totally or partially).

  • T-tube gets a crack in it.

  • There is drainage around the T-tube site.

  • The bile in the drainage changes color.