Early drain removal does not increase the rate of surgical site infections following an open transversus abdominis release

B. Kushner, E. Smith, B. Han, E. Otegbeye, S. Holden, J. Blatnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Intraoperative drain placement during an open transversus abdominis release (TAR) is common practice. However, evidence detailing the optimal timing of drain removal is lacking. Surgical dogma teaches that drains should remain in place until output is minimal. This practice increases the risk of drain-associated complications (infection, pain, and skin irritation) and prolongs the burden of surgical drain maintenance. The objective of this study is to review infectious outcomes following TAR with early or late drain removal. Methods: Patients who underwent an open bilateral TAR from 1/2018 to 1/2020 were eligible for the study. Prior to 2019, one of the two intraoperative drains was left in place at discharge. In 2019, clinical practice shifted to remove both drains at hospital discharge irrespective of output. The rate of infectious morbidity was compared between the two cohorts. Results: A total of 184 patients were included: 89 late and 95 early drain removal. No differences in wound complications existed between the two cohorts: surgical site occurrence (SSO): 21.3% vs. 18.9% (p = 0.68); surgical site infection (SSI): 14.6% vs. 10.5% (p = 0.40); abscess: 8.9% vs. 4.2% (p = 0.20); seroma: 6.7% vs. 10.5% (p = 0.36); cellulitis: 14.6% vs. 8.4% (p = 0.19%); or SSO requiring procedural intervention (SSOPI): 5.6% vs. 5.2% (p = 0.92). Rates of antibiotic prescription and 30-day readmission were also similar (p = 0.69 and p = 0.89). Conclusions: Early removal of abdominal wall surgical drains at discharge irrespective of drain output does not increase the prevalence of infectious morbidity following TAR. It is likely safe to remove all drains at discharge regardless of drain output.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-418
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Component separation
  • Incisional hernia repair
  • Surgical drain
  • Transversus abdominis release
  • Wound infection


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