This handout tells you how to prepare for placement of an Aspira Drainage Catheter. This procedure is done in the Interventional Radiology Department.

What is an Aspira Drainage Catheter?

This catheter is a soft silicone tube with many holes on one end which is placed where fluid collects in your belly or lungs. This tube allows the fluid to drain out of your body and into a drainage bag. A valve at the end of the catheter stops fluid from leaking out and stops air from getting in when you are not using it. A portion of the catheter is tunneled under your skin to reduce the risk of infection. This drain allows you to remove the fluid at home instead of coming into the hospital to have fluid taken out of the belly or lungs.

This catheter will help to relieve:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Cough

  • Stomachache

Getting Ready

If you are taking any type of blood thinner (such as aspirin or Coumadin), you may be told to stop taking them before the catheter is placed.

Do not eat or drink after midnight on the night before the drain placement.

Tell your doctor if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

Tell the doctor if you have any allergies to iodine, latex, contrast or medicines.


  • Infection (watch for fever, redness, and oozing at your tube site)

  • Collapsed lung

  • A leak around the drain

  • Catheter changes position

  • Bleeding

  • Injury to other organs such as your lung, bowel, and liver

  • Low blood pressure if too much fluid is removed

  • Re-expansion pulmonary edema (too much fluid is removed too fast from your lung and your lung fills with more fluid).

  • Pain around the drain

Placing the Catheter

This often takes about 1 hour. First, you will have an IV placed so you can get medicine to help you relax.

Ultrasound and X-ray will be used to help locate the correct place for the drain. Then, we will inject a numbing medicine into the skin where the tube will be placed.

We will make a small cut in your chest or belly. A needle will go through that cut and into the fluid. The needle will be exchanged for the flexible drain. The doctor will then tunnel the catheter under your skin and will make another cut where the catheter will exit your body.

You may feel some pressure during the placement of the tube.

We will remove fluid from your belly or chest after the drain is placed. The tube will then be secured in place with a suture.

The nurse will check your blood pressure and pulse throughout the procedure.

After the Procedure

You will spend 1-2 hours on bed rest. Then, a nurse will teach you how to use your new catheter while you are in the hospital. You should practice draining the fluid from your chest or belly before you leave.

If Hospice is involved with your care, they should know how to use this drain. If they have questions, they can call Interventional Radiology.

Care and Maintenance

Refer to the Aspira drainage kit step by step instructions and DVD.

When to Call

  • Pain or shortness of breath that doesn’t go away after draining the catheter

  • The drained fluid changes color

  • If Aspira isn’t draining (your valve may need to be replaced in the clinic)

  • Signs of infection at the puncture site:

    • Redness or warmth

    • Pus-like drainage or bleeding

    • Excess swelling

    • Fever over 100.4°F for 2 readings taken by mouth, four hours apart

Who to Call

Interventional Radiology Dept,

Monday-Friday, 8 am-4 pm

(608)-263-9729 Prompt #3.

Ask for the “IR Nurse Coordinator” during normal business hours or the “IR resident on-call” afterhours.