Abdominal drainage versus no drainage post-gastrectomy for gastric cancer

NICE Quality and Productivity Case Studies
Queen's University Belfast
Publication date:
21 April 2016



This Cochrane review concludes that there is no convincing evidence to support the routine use of abdominal drains in patients under-going gastrectomy for gastric cancer. The four trials included in the review recruited a total of 438 patients and were of moderate methodological quality. No statistically significant differences were observed between those with and without abdominal drains with regards to the primary outcomes of mortality and post-operative complications, however this evidence was of a ‘very low’ and ‘low’ grade respectively. Two studies reported drain-related complications affecting 5 patients in total. Given the possibility of drain-related complications and the statistically significant difference in the secondary outcomes of operation time and length of postoperative hospital stay, the authors conclude that abdominal drains increase harm without providing any additional benefit in this group of patients.