Open Access Research article

Is the routine drainage after surgery for thyroid necessary? - A prospective randomized clinical study [ISRCTN63623153]

Jotinder Khanna13, RS Mohil13, Chintamani134*, Dinesh Bhatnagar13, MK Mittal13, M Sahoo23 and Magan Mehrotra13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, Delhi, India

2 Department of Cytopathology, Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, Delhi, India

3 Vardhman Mahavir Medical College Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi-India

4 Department of Radiology, Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, Delhi, India

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BMC Surgery 2005, 5:11  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-5-11

Published: 19 May 2005



Drains are usually left after thyroid surgery to prevent formation of hematoma and seroma in the thyroid bed. This is done to reduce complications and hospital stay. Objective evaluation of the amount collected in the thyroid bed by ultrasonography (USG) can help in assessing the role of drains.


A randomized prospective control study was conducted on 94 patients undergoing 102 thyroid surgeries, over a period of fifteen months. Patients included in the study were randomly allocated to drain and non-drain group on the basis of computer generated random number table. The surgeon was informed of the group just before the closure of the wound Postoperatively USG neck was done on first and seventh postoperative day by the same ultrasonologist each time. Any swelling, change in voice, tetany and tingling sensation were also recorded. The data was analyzed using two-sample t-test for calculating unequal variance.


Both groups were evenly balanced according to age, sex, and size of tumor, type of procedure performed and histopathological diagnosis. There was no significant difference in collection of thyroid bed assessed by USG on D1 & D7 in the two groups (p = 0.313) but the hospital stay was significantly reduced in the non-drain group (p = 0.007). One patient in the drain group required needle aspiration for collection in thyroid bed. No patient in either group required re-operation for bleeding or haematoma.


Routine drainage of thyroid bed following thyroid surgery may not be necessary. Not draining the wound results in lesser morbidity and decreased hospital stay.