The complication rate after axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) and inguinal lymph node dissection (ILND) in melanoma patients is high. The aim of this randomized non-inferiority study was to evaluate the effect of postoperative wound drainage on early complications after ALND and ILND.
Between 2018 and 2020, 104 stage III melanoma patients operated on with ALND or ILND were randomized to a study group with complete wound drain removal 3 wk after surgery or a control group with progressive drain removal. The primary end point was overall early complications graded according to the modified Clavien-Dindo classification. Secondary endpoints were length of hospital stay and prognostic factors for early complications.
Of the 99 patients analyzed, ALND was performed in 58 patients and ILND in 41 patients. Overall, 62 patients (62.6%) developed early complications: 30 in the study group and 32 in the control group (P = 0.53). The confidence interval for the difference in proportions of patients without early complications in the two groups was -0.27 to 0.11 (P = 0.42), hence non-inferiority could be claimed. Length of hospital stay was 5 d in the study group compared to 6 in the control group (P < 0.01). ILND was associated with increased risk of early complications compared to ALND (75.6% versus 53.4%, P = 0.04).
Complete drain removal 3 wk after ALN and ILND in stage III melanoma patients did not increase the risk of early complications compared to progressive drain removal.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.