Article Abstract

Post-operative drain use in patients undergoing decompression and fusion: incidence of complications and symptomatic hematoma

Authors: Owoicho Adogwa, Aladine A. Elsamadicy, Amanda R. Sergesketter, Ronnie L. Shammas, Sohrab Vatsia, Victoria D. Vuong, Syed Khalid, Joseph Cheng, Carlos A. Bagley, Isaac O. Karikari


Background: Surgical drains are commonly used after spine surgery to minimize infection and hematoma formation. The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of post-operative complications after spinal decompression and fusion with and without a subfascial drain.
Methods: The medical records of 139 adult (≥18 years old) spinal deformity patients undergoing elective spinal decompression and fusion at a major academic institution were reviewed. We identified 116 (83.5%) who had a post-operative drain and 23 (16.5%) who did not have a postoperative drain (No-Drain: n=23; Drain-Use: n=116). Patient demographics, comorbidities, intra- and post-operative complication rates were collected for each patient. The primary outcome investigated in this study was the rate of post-operative complications, specifically surgical site infections (SSI) and hematoma formation.
Results: Patient demographics and comorbidities were similar between both cohorts, with the body mass index (BMI) slightly higher in the Drain-Use cohort (No-Drain: 26.1 kg/m2vs. Drain-Use: 29.1 kg/m2, P=0.02). Operative time and the median number of levels fused were similar between the cohorts. The postoperative complications profile was similar between both cohorts, including deep and superficial SSIs (P=0.52 and P=0.66, respectively), and incidence of hematoma formation (P=0.66). Length of hospital stay (LOS) was significantly higher for the Drain-use cohort compared to the No-Drain cohort (5.0 vs. 2.8 days, P<0.0001). There were no significant differences in the 30-day hospital readmission rate or incidence of 30-day wound dehiscence, draining wound, incision & drainage (I & D), or bleeding between both patient groups.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that the use of postoperative subfascial drains in patients undergoing spinal decompression with fusion may not be associated with a reduction in SSIs or hematoma formation.