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Role of abdominal drains in perforated duodenal ulcer patients: a prospective controlled study

D Pai, A Sharma, R Kanungo, S Jagdish, A Gupta
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery 1999, 69 (3): 210-3

BACKGROUND: Duodenal ulcer perforation is a common emergency in south India, with about 100-120 cases being treated at Jawaharalal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research each year. The routine to date has been to leave two tube drains: one in the Morrison's pouch and one in the pelvis after omental patch closure. This study was conducted to test the efficacy and safety of drain usage routinely after duodenal ulcer perforation closure with Roscoe Graham omental patch technique.

METHODS: In this prospective controlled study, 44 patients formed the test group (without drains) and 75 patients formed the control group (with abdominal drainage). Only patients of perforated duodenal ulcer closed with Roscoe Graham omental patch technique were included in the study. The incidence of postoperative fever, wound infection, time for return of bowel function and duration of hospital stay were noted. Details of drainage noted were the mean amount of daily drainage, mean time of drain removal and occurrence of drain-related complications. Peritoneal fluid, wound discharges, drain tips and drain wounds were cultured. Abdominal ultrasound was performed in all patients in the second postoperative week or if earlier indicated to detect intra-abdominal collections.

RESULTS: It was found that there was no difference in incidence or duration of postoperative pyrexia, return of bowel function or postoperative hospital stay between the two groups. Routine use of drains was not effective in preventing postoperative fluid collection nor in decreasing the incidence of intra-abdominal abscesses. The migration of bacteria from the exterior to the peritoneal cavity via the drain was also demonstrated. Drains were found to cause morbidity including intestinal obstruction.

CONCLUSION: The routine use of drains was found to be neither safe nor effective in patients of perforated duodenal ulcer treated by omental patch closure.

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