Evidence-Based Management of Drains Following Pancreatic Resection: A Systematic Review

Pancreas. 2018 Jan;47(1):12-17. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0000000000000961.


Many pancreatic surgeons continue to use intraperitoneal drains, but others have limited or avoided their use, believing this improves outcomes. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature assessing outcomes in pancreatectomy without drains, selective drainage, and early drain removal. We searched PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library databases and conducted a systematic review of randomized and nonrandomized studies comparing routine intra-abdominal drainage versus no drainage, selective drain use, and early versus late drain removal after pancreatectomy, with major complications as the primary outcome. A meta-analysis of the literature assessing routine use of drains was conducted using the random-effects model. A total of 461 articles met search criteria from PubMed (168 articles), Embase (263 articles), and the Cochrane Library (30 articles). After case reports and articles without primary data on complications were excluded, 14 studies were identified for systematic review. Definitive evidence-based recommendations cannot be made regarding the management of drains following pancreatectomy because of limitations in the available literature. Based on available evidence, the most conservative approach, pending further data, is routine placement of a drain and early removal unless the patient's clinical course or drain fluid amylase concentration suggests a developing fistula.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Device Removal
  • Drainage / adverse effects
  • Drainage / instrumentation
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Practice / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatectomy / adverse effects
  • Pancreatectomy / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome