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September 1995

Drains in Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery: Are They Necessary?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, West Virginia University, Morgantown (Drs Wax and Hurst); and the Department of Surgery, Oshawa (Ontario) General Hospital (Dr Valiulis).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121(9):981-983. doi:10.1001/archotol.1995.01890090025004

Objective:  To assess the postoperative complications in patients who underwent elective thyroid or parathyroid surgery without postoperative drainage.

Design:  During a 6-year period all patients who met study criteria were prospectively evaluated.

Setting:  General community and tertiary referral center.

Patients:  Fifty-seven patients undergoing thyroid surgery and eight patients undergoing parathyroid surgery were evaluated. Twenty-four patients were excluded because drains were placed postoperatively. Reasons for exclusion included presence of a large dead space, substernal goiter, extensive neck dissection for malignant neoplasm, and large goiters.

Results:  Major complications consisted of a hematoma requiring reexploration in one patient, and a recurrent nerve palsy in one patient. Minor complications consisted of temporary hypocalcemia (three), seroma (one), and superior flap edema that resolved in 3 months (20).

Conclusion:  Routine prophylactic drainage in a select patient population is unnecessary after uncomplicated thyroid or parathyroid surgery.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121:981-983)