A randomized study of closed wound suction drainage for extensive lumbar spine surgery

Mark D. Brown, Kathleen F.W. Brookfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Study Design. A prospective randomized study. Objectives. To study the risk of infection, hematoma, and neurologic deficits following extensive lumbar spine surgery in patients with or without prophylactic closed wound suction drain placement. Summary of Background Data. One randomized study assessing prophylactic drain placement in one-level lumbar spine surgery suggested that the use of a wound drain is not effective at preventing infection and may actually increase the rate of this complication. Our study was designed to determine the efficacy of closed wound suction drainage in preventing complications after extensive lumbar spine surgery. Methods. Eighty-three consecutive patients undergoing extensive lumbar spine surgery were prospectively randomized to one of two groups. Forty-two patients had a closed wound suction drain placed before wound closure and 41 patients did not have a drain placed. The two groups were then assessed for differences in postoperative infection rate, incidence of hematoma and neurologic deficits, operating room time, estimated blood lose, hemoglobin and hematocrit values, temperature, dressing drainage, and length of hospital stay. Results. No infections, epidural hematomas, or new neurologic deficits were encountered in either group of patients. The only significant finding was a higher temperature in the "no drain" group the first day after surgery (P = 0.0437). Conclusions. Based on the findings in this and other studies, the decision to use or not use a wound drain following lumbar spine surgery should be left to the surgeon's discretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1068
Number of pages3
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cauds equina syndrome
  • Hematoma
  • Infection
  • Lumbar spine surgery
  • Postoperative complications
  • Randomized study
  • Wound drain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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