The Outcome of Using Closed Suction Wound Drains in Patients Undergoing Lumbar Spine Surgery: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Study Design

Systematic review.

Objective

Determine whether closed suction wound drains decrease the incidence of postoperative complications compared with no drain use in patients undergoing spine surgery for lumbar degenerative conditions.

Methods

Electronic databases and reference lists of key articles were searched up through January 22, 2015, to identify studies comparing the use of closed suction wound drains with no drains in spine surgery for lumbar degenerative conditions. Outcomes assessed included the cumulative incidence of epidural hematoma, superficial and deep wound infection, and postoperative blood transfusion. The overall strength of evidence across studies was based on precepts outlined by the Grades of Recommendation Assessment, Development and Evaluation Working Group.

Results

Five heterogeneous studies, three randomized controlled trials, and two cohort studies form the evidence basis for this report. There was no difference in the incidence of hematoma, superficial wound infection, or deep infection in patients with compared with patients without closed suction wound drains after lumbar surgery. The upper bounds of the 95% confidence interval for hematoma ranged from 1.1 to 16.7%; for superficial infection, 1.0 to 7.3%; and for deep infection, 1.0 to 7.1%. One observational study reported a 3.5-fold increase in the risk of blood transfusion in patients with a drain. The overall strength of evidence for these findings is considered low or insufficient.

Conclusions

Conclusions from this systematic review are limited by the quality of included studies that assessed the use of closed suction wound drains in lumbar spine surgeries for degenerative conditions. We believe that spine surgeons should not routinely rely on closed suction wound drains in lumbar spine surgery until a higher level of evidence becomes available to support its use.

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