Although literature does not recommend routine wound drain utilization, there is a disconnect between the evidence and clinical practice. This study aims to explore into this controversy and analyze the surgeon preferences related to drain utilization, and the factors influencing drain use and criterion for removal.
A survey was distributed to AO Spine members worldwide. Surgeon demographics and factors related to peri-operative drain use in 1 or 2-level open fusion surgery for lumbar degenerative pathologies were collected. Multivariate analyses by drain utilization, and criterion of removal were conducted.
231 surgeons participated, including 220 males (95.2%), orthopedics (178, 77.1%), and academic/university-affiliated (114, 49.4%). Most surgeons preferred drain use (186, 80.5%) and subfascial drains (169, 73.2%). Drains were removed based on duration by 52.87% of the surgeons, but 27.7% removed drains based on outputs. On multivariable analysis, significant predictors of drain use were surgeon’s aged 35-44 (OR = 11.9, 95% CI = 1.2-117.2, = .034), 45-54 (29.1, 3.1-269.6, = .003), 55-64 (8.9, 1.4-56.5, .019), and wound closure using coaptive films (6.0, 1.2-29.0, = .025). Additionally, surgeons from Asia Pacific (OR = 5.19, 95% CI = 1.65-16.38, = .005), Europe (3.55, 1.22-10.31, = .020), and Latin America (4.40, 1.09-17.83, .038) were more likely to remove drain based on time duration, but surgeons <5 years of experience (10.23, 1.75-59.71, = .010) were more likely to remove drains based on outputs.
Most spine surgeons worldwide prefer to place a subfascial wound drain for degenerative open lumbar surgery. The choice for drain placement is associated with the surgeon’s age and use of coaptive films for wound closure, while the criterion for drain removal is associated with the surgeons’ region of practice and experience.