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When I was in ICU following surgery for cancer, I was hugely swollen. I'm told it was caused by the drugs I was given. But the odd thing is, I sprung a leak! Or several leaks according to my daughter. I just remember liquid oozing through the skin of my wrist, and a permanently wet bandage hanging from it. At the time I didn't care, I was deep in morphine nightmares, but now I wonder if the same thing has happened to other people? Is it common for the skin to leak in ICU?

2 Replies

Hi patchworker

This leaking happens quite commonly in critical care although I imagine would seem strange to both you and your family. Basically when someone is given a lot of fluid intravenously some of it will move into the tissues, this happens even more when infection (or septicaemia) is present. A lot of critically ill people do look very swollen. As your condition improves and kidneys remove fluid from the body it gets drawn back out of the tissues and into the circulation and you pee it out. The leaking occurs if you have a small break in the skin anywhere, for example where you might have have had a drip. It shouldn't cause any problems long term although immediately after many people find that their skin is very dry after this and they seem to shed a lot of dead skin. Congratulations on your recovery, great that your daughter is able to fill you in on the things you cannot remember.


Thank you nurseeducatorcritcare, that is interesting.There was infection present, I had subphrenic abcesses following a perforated acute duodenal ulcer which formed a few days after my oesophagectomy for adenocarcinoma. I also had an anastamosis leak and pneumonia and C Diff. But the nightmares and hallucinations were by far the worst part.

But that is all in the past, and with my daughter's help ( she's a midwife) I now understand what happened. But I had never asked her about the leak, it was so unimportant, but recently i have dreamed about it several times. Thank you for explaining it.


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