Suction Drain Volume following Axillary Lymph Node Dissection for Melanoma—When to Remove Drains? A Retrospective Cohort Study

Raimund Winter*, Alexandru Tuca, Paul Wurzer, Caroline Schaunig, Isabelle Sawetz, Judith Holzer-Geissler, Daniel Gmainer, Hanna Luze, Herwig Friedl, Erika Richtig, Lars-Peter Kamolz, David Benjamin Lumenta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Postoperative complications such as seroma formation and wound-site infection occur following completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) for melanoma. We analyzed the impact of time-to-drain removal and drainage volume on seroma formation after ALND. We retrospectively analyzed data from 118 patients after completion ALND for melanoma. Primary endpoints were daily amount of drainage volume, seroma formation and time-to-drain removal. Secondary endpoints included patient-related, disease-specific and perioperative parameters as well as the number of histologically analyzed lymph nodes and surgical complications graded by the Clavien–Dindo classification (CDCL). Statistical analyses were performed using logistic regression models. Drain removal around the 8th postoperative day was statistically associated with a lower risk for the occurrence of seroma formation (p < 0.001). Patients with an increased drainage volume during the early postoperative days were more prone to develop seroma after drain removal. With 49% (CDCL I and II), most complications were managed conservatively, while only 5.9% (CDCL III) required revision surgery (CDCL overall: 55.9%). ALND is a safe procedure with a low rate of severe CDCL III type of complications. To decrease seroma evacuation, our results imply that drains should be removed around the 8th postoperative day to reduce the risk of infection, readmission or prolonged hospitalization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1862
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2022


  • drainage
  • lymph node excision
  • melanoma
  • seroma therapy
  • skin neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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