Efficacy of closed wound drainage after total joint arthroplasty: A prospective randomized study

D. Ovadia*, E. Luger, J. Bickels, A. Menachem, S. Dekel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The efficacy of closed suction drains following joint arthroplasty operations was prospectively evaluated in a randomized manner. All 88 patients allotted to primary knee or hip arthroplasty operations during a 6- month period were included in the study. Drains were used in 32 of 58 patients following total knee arthroplasty and in 18 of 30 total hip arthroplasties. No statistical difference was found in the hemoglobin levels measured following surgery and in the number of patients requiring blood transfusions between the two groups after total hip arthroplasty (P = .06). The power of the test to detect a difference of 2 g% in hemoglobin levels is 94%. Two patients from each group had a transient serous discharge for 3 to 4 days following surgery and none had wound infections. Significantly more blood transfusions were needed in patients with drains following total knee arthroplasty compared with patients without drains (0.7 unit per patient versus 0.2 unit per patient, P = .005) to maintain the same hemoglobin blood levels. Patients with no drains had significantly more transient sterile serous wound discharge than patients with drains (38.4% vs 12.5%, P = .02). Superficial wound infection necessitating antimicrobial medication developed in one patient with drains and in no patients in the other group. These results suggest that drains may not be needed following total hip arthroplasty. The more common serous wound discharge may be of some concern when drains are not used following total knee arthroplasty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-321
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood transfusion
  • Joint arthoplasty
  • Serous discharge
  • Suction drains
  • Wound infection


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