Impact of drains on nausea and vomiting after thyroid and parathyroid surgery: a randomized controlled trial

Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2019 Sep;404(6):693-701. doi: 10.1007/s00423-019-01799-6. Epub 2019 Jun 26.


Objective: Nausea and vomiting are common side effects following thyroid and parathyroid surgery. In a prospective controlled randomized trial, postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) and the number of episodes of vomiting were defined as two primary endpoints. We analysed whether the placement of drains after thyroid or parathyroid surgery enhances PONV and/or influences vomiting.

Patients and methods: From November 2007 to January 2012, 136 consecutive patients were included for thyroid or parathyroid surgery and were randomly assigned to group A (drain, n = 69) or group B (no drain, n = 67). PONV was assessed with visual analogue scale (VAS; range 0 to 10) measurements. Furthermore, episodes of vomiting as well as analgetic and antiemetic therapies were recorded. Difference in neck circumference was compared pre- and postoperatively.

Results: Patients' characteristics did not differ between group A and B. Postoperative VAS values for pain were 2.4 ± 0.3 (group A) and 2.6 ± 0.2 (group B) (p = 0.62), and for nausea 1.4 ± 0.2 (group A) and 1.1 ± 0.2 (group B) (p = 0.57). The relative occurrences of episodes for postoperative vomiting were equal in both groups 0.3 ± 0.1 (p = 1.0). Antiemetic drugs were administered 37 times (group A) and 18 times (group B) (p = 0.099). The total number of treatments of patients with antiemetic drugs was 23 (33.3%) in group A vs. 13 (19.4%) in group B (p = 0.081). The neck circumference postoperatively was significantly larger in group B (p = 0.0025).

Conclusions: Drains after surgery do not enhance postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting. The placement of drains in thyroid surgery is recommended to avoid relevant fluid collection. Drains however may influence the amount of antiemetic drug requirements.

Trial registration: CLINICALTRIALS.

Gov identifier: NCT01679418.

Keywords: Drainage; Nausea; PONV; Surgery; Thyroid; Thyroidectomy; Vomiting.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Parathyroidectomy*
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Switzerland
  • Thyroidectomy*


  • Analgesics
  • Antiemetics

Associated data