The key difference between serous and serosanguinous drainage is that serous drainage is a clear or slightly yellow plasma seen in wounds, while serosanguinous drainage contains fresh bloody exudates coming out from wounds.
Wounds occur when the skin tissue is breached. A wound also gives rise to the formation of wound drainage. It is important to monitor the wound drainage of a patient, assess the condition of the wound, and provide treatment accordingly. There are four types of wound drainage: serous, serosanguinous, sanguineous, and purulent.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Serous Drainage
3. What is Serosanguinous Drainage
4. Similarities – Serous and Serosanguinous Drainage
5. Serous vs Serosanguinous Drainage in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Serous vs Serosanguinous Drainage
What is Serous Drainage?
Serous drainage is the wound exudates that appear in mostly clear or slightly yellow thin plasma. This type of drainage is visible in venous ulceration and in partial-thickness wounds. Serous drainage does not leave color on the bandage that covers the wound. The drainage consists of sugars, white cells, proteins, and other chemicals that are vital in the healing process. In certain serous drainage, the appearance of a minute patch of pink indicates the presence of a small number of red blood cells.
Serous drainage does not indicate any infection. It is normal healthy wound drainage, which often appears in the first 48 to 72 hours upon the occurrence of the wound. However, large amounts of serous drainage should be treated immediately as it can lead to severe medical conditions such as severe pitting edema.
What is Serosanguinous Drainage?
Serosanguinous drainage is a type of wound drainage that consists of fresh blood exudates, which appear due to the breaching of skin tissue. This type of drainage is bright red due to the small amount of blood that leaks. The exudate flow is thick and consistent. Serosanguinous drainage is a normal type of wound drainage, which is a part of the inflammatory phase of wound healing. This drainage only occurs for a couple of hours after the formation of the wound. However, the time duration depends on the severity of the wound. In deep and wider wounds, serosanguinous drainage occurs for a period of 24 to 48 hours. If serosanguinous drainage stops and reappears again after a few hours, it is a sign of an infection where the wound is at a slow pace of healing. Such wounds would need a special inspection to redo the wound dressing or apply stitches to reduce physical stress.
What are the Similarities Between Serous and Serosanguinous Drainage?
- Serous and serosanguinous drainage are two of the four types of wound drainages.
- They occur after the formation of a wound.
- Both types provide evidence of healthy wound healing.
- They are not visible on the skin for a long period of time.
What is the Difference Between Serous and Serosanguinous Drainage?
Serous drainage is a clear watery fluid that does not contain blood, while serosanguinous drainage contains blood. Thus, this is the key difference between serous and serosanguinous drainage. Furthermore, serous drainage takes place after 48 – 72 hours after the occurrence of the wound whereas serosanguinous drainage takes place after 1 – 2 hours after the occurrence of the wound. Moreover, prolonged serous drainage indicates pitting edema, while prolonged serosanguinous drainage increases infection.
The below infographic presents the differences between serous and serosanguinous drainage in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Serous vs Serosanguinous Drainage
There are four types of wound drainages. They are serous, serosanguinous, sanguineous, and purulent. Serous drainage does not contain blood. It is the wound exudates that appear mostly clear or slightly yellow, thin plasma. Serosanguinous drainage, on the other hand, is bloody drainage. It is a fresh blood exudate that appears red due to the breaching of skin tissue. While both are evidence of wound healing, prolonged serous drainage indicates pitting edema, and prolonged serosanguinous drainage increases the risk of infections. So, this summarizes the difference between serous and serosanguinous drainage.
1. “Identifying the Different Types of Wound Drainage.” WoundSource, 22 Apr. 2021.
2. Roland, James. “Serosanguinous Drainage: Types and Why Does It Matter?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 18 Oct. 2017.
1. “A full of syringe having wound drainage” By Ajay Kumar Chaurasiya – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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