What Is Sanguineous Drainage?
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Sanguineous Drainage: Types and Causes

Published on May 15, 2023   -  3 min read


Sanguineous drainage is the first discharge produced after an injury. Read the article to know more.


Sanguineous drainage refers to the drainage of blood from a wound or an incision. It is a common occurrence in medical settings, particularly after surgeries or invasive procedures. Sanguineous drainage can provide important information about the healing process, as well as any potential complications that may arise.

Understanding the causes, characteristics, and management of sanguineous drainage is crucial for healthcare professionals to provide optimal care to their patients. This article will explore sanguineous drainage in depth, including its definition, causes, and treatments and also discuss the importance of monitoring and documenting sanguineous drainage and the potential complications that may arise if it is not properly managed.

What Is Wound Drainage?

A wound (an injury resulting in broken skin) consists of two types of tissue granulation tissue and necrotic tissue. The granulation tissue consists of new tissue formation and appears pink. It grows from the base of the wound and covers the area. The necrotic tissue is the dead tissue that appears yellow, black, or brown. It has a thick leathery texture. The tissue is often associated with a foul smell. Wound drainage helps to identify the presence of contamination. It also helps to indicate the healing stage.

What Is Sanguineous Drainage?

Sanguineous drainage occurs in the first stage of healing when fresh blood comes out of the open wound, normally seen during the inflammatory phase of wound healing. During the inflammatory stage of wound healing, damaged cells release inflammatory molecules to attract immune cells to the injury site. The body produces drainage or exudate in response to tissue damage.

Most wounds produce a certain amount of exudate as a part of the healing process. Still, the exudate's nature and amount depend on the tissue damage's severity and any underlying complications.

Sanguineous drainage is commonly seen in wounds that extend beyond the superficial layers of the skin (deep wounds) and is generally associated with damaged blood vessels. Sanguineous drainage consists of fresh blood that is bright red and has a syrup-like consistency. The drainage continues for a few days and gradually thickens as the blood clots.

What Causes Sanguineous Drainage?

Sanguineous drainage is a sign of healing. It occurs when the skin is breached, either from an injury or surgery, and is usually associated with blood vessel injury. It may also be caused in cases where an old wound has reopened due to re-injury, especially during the healing process. Wounds are fragile and vulnerable to injury during the first week of healing. Sanguineous drainage can also be seen when an old bandage is removed, causing injury to the tiny capillaries near the skin.

What Are the Other Types of Wound Healing?

Drainage from the wound can be normal or abnormal. Serous drainage occurs during the inflammatory stage and is normal. However, serum tinged with blood can signify a serious complication.

Serous Drainage - It is primarily composed of plasma. Serous drainage is thin and watery with a clear to yellowish or brownish appearance. The drainage often appears in the first 48 to 72 hours. It is normal to have serious drainage during the initial stage of healing. However, continuous drainage may be a sign of bacterial growth on the wound's surface, resulting in extra serum production.

Serosanguineous Drainage - It is thin and usually appears clear with a tinge of red or pink. Seroguineous drainage consists of serum and red blood cells, indicating that the capillaries have been damaged.

Seropurulent Drainage - It is a combination of serous and purulent drainage. Usually, it occurs when the clear serous drainage is stained with a milky fluid similar to purulent drainage. This can be a sign of infection.

Purulent Drainage - It is a sign of wound infection indicating bacteria's growth and white blood cells' presence. The drainage often appears as a thick liquid with a milk-like texture. The color of the purulent discharge may vary from grayish-yellow to green or brown. It is also associated with a strong smell.

Hemorrhagic Drainage - Continuous sanguineous drainage can signify hemorrhage due to artery or vein damage. Bright red, spurting blood indicates an artery rupture, while dark red and steady flowing blood indicates a vein rupture. It requires immediate medical attention as it can be fatal.

How to Differentiate Between Sanguineous Drainage and Serosanguineous Drainage?

Serosanguineous and sanguineous drainage vary as to the extent of the tissue damage. Also, serosanguineous drainage is a thin discharge, mainly consisting of edema fluid and no cells. It appears redder, indicating an active bleed, open wound, or hemorrhage. It involves damaged capillaries and is common in wounds that require regular dressings. On the other hand, sanguineous drainage involves fresh blood that gradually reduces with time. It is more common in deep wounds, generally those associated with blood vessel discharge.

Does Sanguineous Drainage Need Medical Attention?

It is normal for a fresh wound to drain more than a healing wound. However, excessive sanguineous drainage or serous drainage after an injury or surgery needs medical attention. Abnormal drainage must be reported to the doctor as it may indicate an underlying complication. The doctor will examine the wound and investigate any other symptoms.


It is vital to pay closely monitor a wound while it is healing. Examining the wound and assessing the type of drainage for color, clarity, thickness, or odor helps to determine the progress of wound healing. Sanguineous is a part of natural wound healing and keeps the wound well lubricated for easy healing. Wound drainage gives the nutrition of the cells and stimulates enzymes in damaged cells to heal.

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15 May 2023  -  3 min read




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