Table of Contents
HPB Surgery
Volume 10, Issue 6, Pages 405-406

Liver Resection: To Drain or not to Drain?

Department of Surgery, The St George Hospital, Sydney, NSW 2217, Australia

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose: A prospective, randomized trial was performed to determine if intra-abdominal drainage catheters are necessary after elective liver resection.

Patients and Methods: Between April 1992 and April 1994, 120 patients subjected to liver resection, stratified by extent of resection and by surgeon, were randomized to receive or not receive operative closed-suction drainage. Operative blood loss was not an exclusion criteria, and no patient who consented to the study was excluded.

Results: Eighty-seven patients (73%) had resection of one hepatic lobe or more (27 lobectomies, 54 trisegmentectomies, and 6 bilobar atypical resections) and 33 had less than a lobectomy (8 wedge resections or enucleations, 9 segmentectomies, and 16 bisegmentectomies). Eighty-four patients (70%) had metastatic cancer and 36 patients (30%) had primary liver pathology. There were no differences in outcome, including length of hospital stay (no drain, 13.4 ± 0.9 days; drain, 13.1 ± 0.8 days; P not significant [NS]), mortality (no drain, 3.3%; drain, 3.3%), complication rate (no drain, 43%; drain, 48%; n= NS), or requirement for subsequent percutaneous drainage (no drain, 18%; drain, 8%; P= NS). All infected collections (n= 3) occured in operatively drained patients. Two other complications were directly related to the operatively placed drains. One patient developed a subcutaneous abscess at the drain site, and a second developed a subcutaneous drain tract tumor recurrence as the only current site of recurrence.

Conclusion: In the first 50 consecutive resections performed since the conclusion of this trial, only 4 patients (8%) have required subsequent percutaneous drainage. We conclude that abdominal drainage is unnecessary after elective liver resection,