Early removal of drains and discharge of breast cancer surgery patients: a controlled prospective clinical trial.


A prospective trial was conducted to see whether suction drains could safely be removed and patients discharged within 48 h of major breast surgery. Data from two consecutive groups of 50 patients each were compared. Statistical analysis confirmed demographic homogeneity between the two groups with regard to age, tumour size, lymph node involvement, grade of operating surgeon, procedures performed and the 48 h drainage volume. The first group of patients were discharged when drainage was considered acceptable (mean postoperative stay 4.5 days) (long stay). The second group had their drains removed and were discharged after 48 h (short stay). No seromas developed in either group when the total drainage volume (TDV) was less than 150 ml. Seromas developed in 3 (6%) of the long stay group and 5 (10%) of the short stay group (P > 0.05, chi 2 test). No seromas in either group required more than two aspirations. We conclude that it is safe to discharge patients after removal of drains on the 2nd postoperative day

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