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Breast Care (Basel). 2012 Jun;7(3):231-235. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

Axillary Padding without Drainage after Axillary Lymphadenectomy - a Prospective Study of 299 Patients with Early Breast Cancer.

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Department of Breast Surgical Oncology, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.



After lymphadenectomy for early breast cancer, seroma formation is a constant event requiring a suction drainage. This drainage is the strongest obstacle to reducing the hospital stay. Axillary padding without drainage appears to be a valuable option amid the various solutions for reducing the hospital stay.


We conducted a comparison between 114 patients with padding and 185 patients with drainage. Data were obtained from 2 successive prospective studies.


The mean hospital stay was 2.4 days (range 1-4) in the padding group and 4.2 days (range 2-9) in the drainage group (p < 0.05). There were fewer needle aspirations for seroma in the padding group (8.8 vs. 23%, p < 0.05). At 6 weeks, only 28% (32/114) of the patients in the padding group reported pain versus 51% (94/185) in the drainage group. The mean pain intensity at 6 weeks was 3 and 4.3 respectively (p < 0.0001).


Axillary padding without drainage was associated with a better post-operative course than suction drainage in this historical comparison, and the hospital stay was significantly shortened. There are only few series published on this new technique but they all indicate good feasibility and good tolerance. A large randomised multicentric evaluation is now warranted.

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