Impact of a Surgical Sealing Patch on Lymphatic Drainage After Axillary Dissection for Breast Cancer: The SAKK 23/13 Multicenter Randomized Phase III Trial

Ann Surg Oncol. 2018 Sep;25(9):2632-2640. doi: 10.1245/s10434-018-6556-9. Epub 2018 Jun 8.


Background: Several studies and a meta-analysis showed that fibrin sealant patches reduced lymphatic drainage after various lymphadenectomy procedures. Our goal was to investigate the impact of these patches on drainage after axillary dissection for breast cancer.

Methods: In a phase III superiority trial, we randomized patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery at 14 Swiss sites to receive versus not receive three large TachoSil® patches in the dissected axilla. Axillary drains were inserted in all patients. Patients and investigators assessing outcomes were blinded to group assignment. The primary endpoint was total volume of drainage.

Results: Between March 2015 and December 2016, 142 patients were randomized (72 with TachoSil® and 70 without). Mean total volume of drainage in the control group was 703 ml [95% confidence interval (CI) 512-895 ml]. Application of TachoSil® did not significantly reduce the total volume of axillary drainage [mean difference (MD) -110 ml, 95% CI -316 to 94, p = 0.30]. A total of eight secondary endpoints related to drainage, morbidity, and quality of life were not improved by use of TachoSil®. The mean total cost per patient did not differ significantly between the groups [34,253 Swiss Francs (95% CI 32,625-35,880) with TachoSil® and 33,365 Swiss Francs (95% CI 31,771-34,961) without, p = 0.584]. In the TachoSil® group, length of stay was longer (MD 1 day, 95% CI 0.3-1.7, p = 0.009), and improvement of pain was faster, although the latter difference was not significant [2 days (95% CI 1-4) vs. 5.5 days (95% CI 2-11); p = 0.2].

Conclusions: TachoSil® reduced drainage after axillary dissection for breast cancer neither significantly nor relevantly.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Axilla
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Drainage*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Fibrinogen / economics
  • Fibrinogen / therapeutic use*
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Lymph Node Excision* / adverse effects
  • Lymph Node Excision* / economics
  • Mastectomy, Segmental
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology
  • Thrombin / economics
  • Thrombin / therapeutic use*
  • Wound Closure Techniques / economics
  • Wound Closure Techniques / instrumentation*


  • Drug Combinations
  • TachoSil
  • Fibrinogen
  • Thrombin