Subcutaneous closed-suction drainage does not affect surgical site infection rate following elective abdominal operations: a prospective randomized clinical trial

Acta Chir Belg. 2010 Jul-Aug;110(4):457-62. doi: 10.1080/00015458.2010.11680655.


Purpose: To evaluate whether subcutaneous closed-suction drainage (SCSD) would decrease the SSI rate in elective abdominal operations.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to have subcutaneous drains or not following elective abdominal surgery. The fascia and incision closure technique and antimicrobial prophylaxis were standardised. In the drain cohort, SCSD was applied after fascia closure. The drain was removed on postoperative day three. Patient characteristics, body mass index (BMI) and the depth of subcutaneous fatty tissue (SCFT) were noted. The incisional SSI rates were analysed.

Results: There were 210 patients in the drain group and 192 in the no-drain group. There was no significant difference between groups in terms of demographics, BMI or SCFTs. The overall SSI rate was 7.7% and was 5.7% in the drain group and 9.9% in the no-drain group (p = 0.116). Neither BMI nor subcutaneous skin depth affected the SSI rate. However, subgroup analysis revealed that the SSI rate was lower in patients with drains who had undergone resection of colorectal malignancies or had lower abdominal incisions (p< 0.03).

Conclusions: The overall incisional SSI rate was comparable between the drain and no-drain groups. However, subcutaneous closed-suction drainage was not found effective in preventing SSI in our study except in a subgroup of patients with colorectal malignancies and lower abdominal incisions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Suction / methods*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control
  • Suture Techniques