Abdominal drainage after hepatic resection is contraindicated in patients with chronic liver diseases

Ann Surg. 2004 Feb;239(2):194-201. doi: 10.1097/01.sla.0000109153.71725.8c.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether abdominal drainage is beneficial after elective hepatic resection in patients with underlying chronic liver diseases.

Summary background data: Traditionally, in patients with chronic liver diseases, an abdominal drainage catheter is routinely inserted after hepatic resection to drain ascitic fluid and to detect postoperative hemorrhage and bile leakage. However, the benefits of this surgical practice have not been evaluated prospectively.

Patients and methods: Between January 1999 and March 2002, 104 patients who had underlying chronic liver diseases were prospectively randomized to have either closed suction abdominal drainage (drainage group, n = 52) or no drainage (nondrainage group, n = 52) after elective hepatic resection. The operative outcomes of the 2 groups of patients were compared.

Results: Fifty-seven (55%) patients had major hepatic resection with resection of 3 Coiunaud's segments or more. Sixty-nine (66%) patients had liver cirrhosis and 35 (34%) had chronic hepatitis. Demographic, surgical, and pathologic details were similar between both groups. The primary indication for hepatic resection was hepatocellular carcinoma (n = 100, 96%). There was no difference in hospital mortality between the 2 groups of patients (drainage group, 6% vs. nondrainage group, 2%; P = 0.618). However, there was a significantly higher overall operative morbidity in the drainage group (73% vs. 38%, P < 0.001). This was related to a significantly higher incidence of wound complications in the drainage group compared with the nondrainage group (62% vs. 21%, P < 0.001). In addition, a trend toward a higher incidence of septic complications in the drainage group was observed (33% vs. 17%, P = 0.07). The mean (+/- standard error of mean) postoperative hospital stay of the drainage group was 19.0 +/- 2.2 days, which was significantly longer than that of the nondrainage group (12.5 +/- 1.1 days, P = 0.005). With a median follow-up of 15 months, none of the 51 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma in the drainage group developed metastasis at the drain sites. On multivariate analysis, abdominal drainage, underlying liver cirrhosis, major hepatic resection, and intraoperative blood loss of >1.5L were independent and significant factors associated with postoperative morbidity.

Conclusion: Routine abdominal drainage after hepatic resection is contraindicated in patients with chronic liver diseases.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Contraindications
  • Female
  • Hepatectomy* / adverse effects
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / complications*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Care*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Suction* / adverse effects