This biopsy involves drainage of fluid through a needle or plastic tube

The needle or tube is guided into place using ultrasound, CT or x-ray.


You will lie or sit on the ultrasound bed in the best way to access the area to be drained.

Your skin will be cleaned with antiseptic and local anaesthetic will be given. The radiologist will make a small incision (cut) in the skin. A needle is usually inserted first, using an ultrasound, CT or x-ray machine to guide it into the correct area. A plastic tube is inserted which can drain the fluid / collection. It may be necessary to make more than one pass of the needle to get the right placement.

The tube will be held in position by a dressing on the skin.

Usually, a short-stay hospital admission is arranged to allow fluid to drain over several hours.

Sometimes, the tube may stay in overnight if you are an inpatient. Rarely, the drain is left in for longer periods.

The drain can be removed easily on the ward, and a small dressing (bandage) applied.

Risks / Side Effects

Potential risks include:

  • Infection at the drainage site. Aseptic technique (strict infection control practices) is used to minimise the risk of infection.
  • The needle may puncture an organ or blood vessel. If the needle punctures the bowel, there may be some leakage into the abdominal cavity, which can cause infection and require surgery.
  • Rarely, excessive bleeding can occur and may require drainage, transfusion or surgery.

Before your Scan

It is essential that your previous x-ray, CT or ultrasound films are available at the time of the drainage. Please bring these with you to your examination.

Please tell us if you are on medication to thin your blood (e.g. Warfarin, Aspirin or Clopidogrel). You may need to stop taking this medication before the procedure; however you must discuss this with your doctor first.

It is important that you have someone to drive you home after the procedure.

Other Information

The drain will stay in place until your treating doctor decides it should be removed. This may be several hours or days.

Once the drain is removed, a dressing will be applied. There may be a small ooze from the site which should stop after a few hours.

Avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours after the drainage.

You may experience some discomfort; if required, a simple analgesic such as paracetamol (Panadol) should give some relief. Do NOT take Aspirin.

Infection is a potential complication. If you notice any increased redness, swelling, fever or pain tell your referring doctor or immediately call the clinic where the drainage was performed.

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