Drain Placement During Bariatric Surgery, Helpful or Harmful?

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Introduction: Routine drain placement is still widely used in both sleeve gastrectomy (SG) and Roux en Y gastric bypass (REYGB). There is mounting evidence that drains may increase complication risk without preventing reoperation or other complications. Methods: Data from 2017 Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) Participant Use File was evaluated for drain use during laparoscopic REYGB and SG. Primary outcomes were superficial and deep surgical site infections (SSI), reintervention/reoperation, and readmission. Preoperative patient risk factors were also compared to evaluate for association with drain placement. Results: A total of 148 260 patients fit the inclusion criteria. Drains were used in 23 190 (15.6%) cases and not used in 125 070 (84.4%). Drain placement during surgery was associated with increased odds of superficial SSI, deep incisional SSI, and organ space SSI. Patients with drains were found to have increased odds of requiring at least 1 reoperation or intervention within 30 days of surgery. Preoperative risk factors associated with drain placement included diabetes mellitus, a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and oxygen dependence. Smokers were slightly less likely to have a drain placed. There was no significant association with chronic steroid and immunosuppressant usage. Conclusion: There is mounting data against drain placement during bariatric surgery. Prior studies using MBSAQIP data have shown an increased complication rate with drains, and our data set supports the idea that drains may increase complications after surgery. While no randomized prospective trials have been performed looking at drain usage in bariatric surgery, the growing retrospective data certainly inform against the regular use of drains.