No clear benefit or drawback to the use of closed drainage after primary total knee arthroplasty: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016 Apr 26;17:183. doi: 10.1186/s12891-016-1039-2.


Background: Closed drainage after primary total knee arthroplasty (TKA) has been used routinely for many decades, but controversies have arisen in recent years. The purposes of this study were to compare the clinical outcomes of closed drainage with nondrainage after primary TKA; and to assess the benefit and drawback of closed drainage.

Methods: Electronic databases (PubMed/Medline, CENTRAL, Embase and Web of Science) were systematically searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that investigated the efficacy and risks of closed drainage after primary TKA. Two investigators independently reviewed studies for eligibility, assessed the risk of bias and extracted the data. A meta-analysis was then performed using Review Manager Software.

Results: Twelve RCTs totalling 889 TKAs were identified. No significant differences in infection rate or blood loss were found between the closed drainage and nondrainage TKAs, and there was also no significant difference in haematoma formation, deep venous thrombosis, postoperative VAS score or range of motion between the two groups.

Conclusions: There appears to be no clear benefit or drawback to the use of closed drainage after primary TKA. Improving the use of closed drainage might provide better outcomes.

Keywords: Drainage; Meta-analysis; Systematic review; Total knee arthroplasty.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / adverse effects*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / trends
  • Drainage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology