How to Cap Your Biliary Drainage Catheter

This information explains how to do a capping trial on your biliary drainage catheter.

About Capping Trials

Your doctor may want you to do a capping trial on your biliary drainage catheter. This is done to make sure bile (a fluid made by your liver) can flow easily through your body and to make sure your bile ducts are open.

Capping your catheter helps your bile travel down the catheter into your body so that you will no longer need a bag (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Capped biliary drainage catheter

Figure 1. Capped biliary drainage catheter

Your nurse may cap your catheter for you while you’re in the hospital. You will need to do it yourself when you’re home.

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How to Cap Your Biliary Catheter

  1. Gather your supplies. You will need:
    • An alcohol wipe
    • A needleless connector cap
  2. Disconnect your stopcock from the drainage catheter (see Figure 2).
    Figure 2. Disconnecting the stopcock from the drainage catheter

    Figure 2. Disconnecting the stopcock from the drainage catheter

  3. Clean the end of your drainage catheter with an alcohol wipe (see Figure 3).
    Figure 3. Cleaning the end of your drainage catheter

    Figure 3. Cleaning the end of your drainage catheter

  4. Connect the needleless connector to the end of the catheter (see Figure 4).
    Figure 4. Connecting the needleless connector cap

    Figure 4. Connecting the needleless connector

Remember to flush your catheter on the same schedule through the needleless connector.

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While Your Catheter is Capped

If you have a capped biliary drainage catheter, you need to watch for these symptoms:

  • A fever of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher.
  • Leaking around your catheter insertion site.
  • Pain around your abdomen (belly) where the catheter is.
  • Chills.

These symptoms can happen any time after your catheter is capped.  If you have any of these symptoms, call Interventional Radiology and then, uncap your catheter. To do this, remove the needleless connector cap from the catheter and reconnect the catheter to a new drainage bag. Your symptoms should go away within 30 to 45 minutes. If they don’t, call Interventional Radiology.

Do not recap your catheter without calling Interventional Radiology.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about if the catheter should be capped or uncapped, call Interventional Radiology at 212-639-2236. You can reach a staff member Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the doctor on call for Interventional Radiology.

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