The use of surgical site drains in breast reconstruction: A systematic review

Isis Scomacao, Andi Cummins, Esra Roan, Eliana F.R. Duraes, Risal Djohan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Use of drains has been advocated in order to prevent seroma and hematoma; however, specific recommendations vary widely. The goal is to perform a systematic analysis of published literature on the use of drains for breast reconstruction. Methods: The literature search was performed according to the PRISMA guidelines. The search included the Cochrane Library, Embase, and Pubmed databases using the terms “breast reconstruction” and “breast flap” combined with “drain”, “seroma,” and “seroma prevention”. The references were appraised in two rounds, by two independent reviewers; studies were included/excluded based on relevance of title and subsequently by the content of their abstracts/manuscripts. Outcomes regarding seroma, infection rate, length of stay (LOS), drainage, reconstruction type and complications were analyzed. Results: Of 2252 studies identified via search, 64 were relevant and 21 met inclusion criteria. Most of the study designs were case series or retrospective cohort studies (Level of Evidence III or IV), with the exception of one prospective randomized-controlled trial. Seroma rate was given in 18 studies, infection rate in 11, and criteria for drain removal in 19. Reoperation rate was available in 7 and LOS in 18 studies. The majority of studies (13) agreed to remove the drain when the output was less than 30 ml/24 h. Drain output was reported in 11, and 20 reported drain type used. Conclusion: There is sparse literature available with which to make evidence-based guidelines. A standardized guideline for reporting drain use is crucial to providing a better understanding of complications in breast reconstruction related to surgical drains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-662
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast reconstruction
  • Closed suction
  • Seroma
  • Seroma prevention
  • Suction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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