When to remove the drainage catheter?
If the catheter output is less than 10 to 20 mL per 24 hours, there are no other reasons for the decreased outputs (e.g., catheter clogged, kinked, or malpositioned), and the patient has clinically improved, the catheter can be removed. Repeat imaging with US, CT, or contrast injection under fluoroscopy is not necessary unless the patient has a known fistula or is still clinically symptomatic, or unless the overall output is less than expected. An exception to these criteria for catheter removal is percutaneous cholecystostomy catheters. Percutaneous cholecystostomy catheters require an epithelialized tract to form before removal to prevent bile leakage and bile peritonitis. This usually requires a minimum of 3 weeks’ time, but if the patient is immunocompromised or in the intensive care unit, the process can take even longer.