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Surg Today. 2014 Jan;44(1):137-41. doi: 10.1007/s00595-013-0531-7. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Timing of drainage tube removal after thyroid surgery: a retrospective study.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Nagasaki University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 1-7-1 Sakamoto, Nagasaki, 852-8501, Japan, shiminami-gi@umin.net.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the chronological changes in the amount of drainage fluid after thyroidectomy, and to establish standard indications for the drain to be removed.


We examined a cohort of 249 patients undergoing thyroid surgery. The patients were divided into four groups: a Graves' group, a non-dissection group, a central-dissection group and a lateral-dissection group. The amount of drainage was measured every 6 h, and the drain was removed postoperatively when the drainage decreased in amount and contained serous fluid after a meal.


In all four groups, the most drainage occurred in the first 6 h after surgery. The total amount of drainage from the operation to the time of drain removal was significantly higher in Graves' group and in the lateral-dissection group than in the other two groups. The median wound drainage significantly decreased from 12 to 18 h after surgery in all four groups. In the lateral-dissection group, the wound drainage significantly decreased again in the first 24-30 h.


The findings of this study suggest that drains can be removed postoperatively if the drainage was less than 15 mL during a 6-h period and contain serous fluid.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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