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Draining a Wound – Serous vs Sanguineous drainage

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Wounds can secrete fluids as part of the healing process, and while at times the secretion is harmless, it can also be an indication of infection or inflammation.

Side effects that are commonly associated with wounds include pain, swelling, and redness. Drainage is also a possibility, so it is important that you understand what wound drainage entails so the wound can begin to heal more effectively.

Additionally, as a nurse, it is important for you to know exactly what type of drainage the patient is experiencing so the wound can be treated accordingly.

Serous Drainage

Serous drainage is common and in most cases is a good indicator of the wound healing properly. This type of drainage typically happens around the area of the cut where protein along with other tissue fluids builds up.

The drainage is usually clear in color and has thin and watery plasma appearance. A normal amount of this drainage is fine and is not cause for concern when the healing process is in the inflammatory stage.

However, if there is too much serous drainage around a wound, then there may be an infection in the wound due to bacteria or micro-organisms. When this happens, the infection makes the wound a much more serious medical problem.

Sanguineous Drainage

Sanguineous drainage contains blood and white cells rather than protein that is found in serous drainage cases. This type of drainage usually occurs with partial or completely thick wounds and the drainage buildup around the wound appears to have a brighter color and a much thicker consistency. It can also be darker in color and can be compared to the color and consistency of syrup.

Sanguineous drainage also features added plasma, and the addition of this extra plasma can cause the run-off from the wound to appear pink in color.

As wounds heal, it is normal to have a little amount of sanguineous drainage. However, like the serous drainage, if there is evidence of too much drainage, then that can mean there is trauma at the site of the wound. It is usually the result of damaged blood capillaries or vessels.

Difference Between Serous and Sanguineous Drainage

Well for starters, the type of wound the two appear in are slightly different. While serous drainage tends to appear on almost every type of wound, sanguineous drainage doesn’t.

  • Sanguineous drainage most often appears on thicker and much deeper wounds.
  • Also, sanguineous drainage contains blood whereas serous drainage doesn’t.

The Similarities Between the Two Types of Drainage

Both types of drainage are part of the healing process of their respective wounds, and too much of either type of drainage can mean the patient needs to be treated accordingly.

The color and content of the drainage should allow you to easily let you classify the drainage type. Therefore, it is important that you pay attention to the type of drainage and other symptoms so that you can treat the wound accordingly.

Other Signs of Wound Infection

There are many signs to watch for when it comes to suspecting wound infection. From expanding redness around the wound to an increase in swelling, tenderness, and pain, there are several things you should pay close attention to while the wound is healing.

Common signs of wound infection include:

  • Fluid drainage (as described above)
  • A Fever
  • A hot incision site
  • Feelings of malaise
  • Continual or increased pain

If you suspect the wound has become infected, you should immediately cleanse the wound with soap and water and apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment to the wound. You will then cover the wound with medical dressings or bandages again and make sure to keep the site clean and dry for the next twenty-four hours.

The dressing will need to be changed on a daily basis while also paying attention to the amount of drainage coming from the wound along with any other visible changes to the wound or incision site and surrounding area.

Measuring Drainage

While knowing the characteristics and risks involved with these two types of drainage is good, you should also familiarize yourself with how to measure the drainage.

To do so, you can break down the different drainage levels into percentages of total saturation.

Scant drainage, for example, is below the 25 percent saturation line which means the dressings being used on the wounds are only slightly moist. Copious drainage, on the other hand, is much more serious and is at 75 percent saturation. When the percentage levels hit this high, then serious medical intervention is necessary.

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