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The timing of drain removal in parotidectomies: outcomes of removal at 4 h post-operatively and a Canadian survey of practice patterns.

BACKGROUND: The post-operative management of parotidectomies is highly provider dependent. No guidelines are currently available for timing of parotid drain removal. This study aimed to assess: (1) outcomes and complications after early drain removal (< 4 h, post-operative day [POD] 0) versus late drain removal (POD ≥ 1); (2) current Canadian provider practices.

METHODS: A single surgeons ten-year parotidectomy practice was reviewed, spanning his practice change from routine POD ≥ 1 drain removal to POD 0 removal, with extraction of patient demographic, disease, and complication variables. An anonymous, cross-sectional survey on parotid drain practices was distributed to Canadian Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery members. Descriptive statistics, Wilcoxon Rank Sum, and unpaired student's t-tests were calculated.

RESULTS: In total, 526 patients were included and 44.7% (235/526) had drains removed POD 0. There was no significant difference in hematoma or seroma rates between the POD 0 and POD ≥ 1 drain removal cohorts. The national survey on parotid drain management had 176 responses. The majority (67.9%) reported routinely using drains after parotidectomy and 62.8% reported using a drain output based criteria for removal. The most common cut-off output was 30 ml in 24 h (range 5-70 ml).

CONCLUSION: There was no difference in hematoma or seroma rates for patients with parotid drains removed on POD 0 versus POD ≥ 1. Our national survey found significant variation in Canadian parotidectomy drain removal practices, which may be an area that can be further assessed to minimize hospital resources and improve patient care.

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