A series of 168 patients who underwent 177 inguinal lymph node dissections from 1979 to 1989 were retrospectively reviewed to determine the incidence and severity of postoperative complications as well as the perioperative risk factors associated with them. Operative mortality was 0%, whereas the incidence of moderate to severe wound infection was 11%, skin flap problems 0%, seromas 6%, and hemorrhage 3%. The occurrence of a wound complication increased the average hospital stay from 11 to 12 days. Multivariate risk factor analysis revealed age older than 50, male sex, and smoking to be significant risk factors for developing a wound infection. The use of prophylactic antibiotics and the duration of closed suction catheter drainage were not predictive of wound complications. Overall, 44% of patients experienced some postoperative edema, with only 7% of patients having 1+ edema that lasted longer than 6 months. Combined ilioinguinal lymph node dissection increased the chance of developing moderate to severe edema. These risk factors identify patients at high risk for morbidity, which should lead to improved perioperative care.
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