Drain versus no drain in elective open incisional hernia operations: a registry-based analysis with 39,523 patients

Hernia. 2023 Aug 18. doi: 10.1007/s10029-023-02862-4. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Elective open incisional hernia operations are a frequently performed and complex procedure. Prophylactic drainage is widely practised to prevent local complications, but nevertheless the benefit of surgical drain placement remains a controversially discussed subject. Objective of this analysis was to evaluate the current status of patient care in clinical routine and outcome in this regard.

Methods: The study based on prospectively collected data of the Herniamed Register. Included were all patients with elective open incisional hernia between 1/2005 and 12/2020 and completed 1-year follow-up. Multiple linear and logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the relation of individual factors to the outcome variables.

Results: Analysed were data from 39,523 patients (28,182 with drain, 11,341 without). Patients with drain placement were significantly older, had a higher BMI, more preoperative risk factors, and a larger defect size. Drained patients furthermore showed a significant disadvantage in the outcome parameters intraoperative complications, general complications, postoperative complications, complication-related reoperations, and pain at the 1-year follow-up. No significant difference was observed with respect to the recurrent rate.

Conclusion: With 71.3%, the use of surgical drainages has a high level of acceptance in elective open incisional hernia operations. The worse outcome of patients is associated with the use of drains, independent of other influencing factors in the model such as patient or surgical characteristics. The use of drains may be a surrogate parameter for other unobserved confounders.

Keywords: Drain; Elective hernia operations; Open incisional hernia repair; Outcome.