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Evaluation of Morbidity of Suction Drains After Retroperitoneal Lymphadenectomy in Gynecological Tumors: A Systematic Literature Review
  1. Omar Moreira Bacha, MD*,,
  2. Marie Plante, MD,
  3. Luciana Schmidt Kirschnick, MD and
  4. Maria Isabel Edelweiss, MD, PhD,§
  1. * Hospital Santa Rita, Sao Paulo, Brazil;
  2. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil;
  3. LAVAL University, CHUQ - Hôtel Dieu de Québec, Canada;
  4. § Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Brazil.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Omar Moreira Bacha, MD, Hôtel Dieu de Québec, 11, Còte du Palais, Québec, G1R 2J6 Canada. E-mail:


Introduction: The prophylactic use of closed suction drains after retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy in the management of gynecologic tumors has been widely used to prevent collections of clots or lymph and to avoid infections and postoperative fistulas. The improvement of newer surgical techniques, the use of antibiotic prophylaxis, and the nonclosure of the peritoneum led to the need to reevaluate the use of drains. Retrospective, prospective, and randomized studies did not find differences in the postoperative morbidity between the use and nonuse of drains. Some studies even suggested worse morbidity with the use of drains.

Objectives: To assess the morbidity of the use of drains compared with no drains in a systematic literature review with aggregate effect measure (meta-analysis).

Materials and Methods: Between 1966 and August 2007, 3 independent reviewers analyzed all studies that assessed the use of drains or no drains through a comprehensive literature search of the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Databases. Statistical analysis was carried out through the RevMan software.

Results: Of the 285 studies initially reviewed, 11 were selected. Only 4 were considered adequate for group analysis, totaling 571 patients. When assessing outcomes altogether, namely, fever morbidity, symptomatic lymphocysts, deep vein thrombosis, pelvic infection, and fistulas, the relative risk was 1.76 (95% confidence interval, 1.04-3.01) and number necessary to harm was 12.2 referring to the use of drains.

Conclusions: The prophylactic use of continuous suction drains after retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy in the management of gynecologic tumors should be avoided.

  • Drains
  • Prophylactic drainage
  • Retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy
  • Gynecologic neoplasias
  • Gynecologic tumors
  • Systematic review

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  • Financing: The project was entirely financed by the authors.