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Postoperative outcomes of pedicle screw instrumentation for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with and without a subfascial wound drain: a multicentre randomized controlled trial

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The aim of this study was to evaluate whether, after correction of an adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), leaving out the subfascial drain gives results that are no worse than using a drain in terms of total blood loss, drop in haemoglobin level, and opioid consumption.


Adolescents (aged between 10 and 21 years) with an idiopathic scoliosis (major curve ≥ 45°) were eligible for inclusion in this randomized controlled noninferiority trial (n = 125). A total of 90 adolescents who had undergone segmental pedicle screw instrumentation were randomized into no-drain or drain groups at the time of wound closure using the sealed envelope technique (1:1). The primary outcome was a drop in the haemoglobin level during first three postoperative days. Secondary outcomes were 48-hour postoperative oxycodone consumption and surgical complications.


All 90 patients were included in the primary outcome analysis (no drain = 43; drain = 47). The mean total postoperative blood loss (intraoperative and drain output) was significantly higher in the group with a subfascial drain than in the no-drain group (1,008 ml (SD 520) vs 631 ml (SD 518); p < 0.001). The drop in haemoglobin level did not differ between the study groups over the postoperative timepoints (p = 0.290). The 48-hour opioid consumption was significantly higher in the no-drain group (2.0 mg/kg (SD 0.9) vs 1.4 (SD 0.6); p = 0.005). Two patients in the no-drain and one patient in the drain group developed a surgical site infection.


Leaving the subfascial drain out after pedicle screw instrumentation for AIS is not associated with higher postoperative haemoglobin levels. Patients treated without a subfascial drain needed 30% more opioids during the first 48 hours than those who had a drain.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2022;104-B(9):1067–1072.

Correspondence should be sent to Linda Helenius. E-mail:

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