DOI: 10.1093/bjs/znad258.689 ISSN:

1052 Safety of Drain-Less Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) and Effects on Length of Stay

A Kuligowska, J Geddes, F Wong, B Fakouri
  • Surgery



The use of drain in ACDF surgery is to avoid post-operative catastrophic haematomas compressing the airway. However, studies associate drains with dysphagia, infection and longer inpatient stays. This study assesses whether drain-less ACDF could avoid drain-site morbidity and reduce length of stay (LoS) without increasing complications.


All consecutive adult patients who had ACDF under a single surgeon over a 4-year period were identified, where routine post-operative care did not involve drain placement when meticulous intra-operative haemostasis was achieved. Data was collected using electronic patient records. From Autumn 2020, patients were pre-operatively counselled on potential same-day discharge. This group of patients (PC) was compared with those without counselling (Control) for assessing secondary outcomes, including LoS and GP or A&E attendance.


Seventy-four patients were included in this study. None had post-operative drain placement and there were no reports of post-operative haematoma or return to theatre. There were 12 and 15 patients for PC and Control groups respectively. For same-day discharge, there were two patients in the PC group and none in Control group. Median LoS was also shorter in PC (1.0 day; IQR:1-1.3) compared to Control (2.0 days; IQR:1-3.5). Three patients from each group had persistent mild radicular symptoms, but none required GP or A&E attendance within 6 weeks post-operatively.


Our results support that routine drain placement may not be required for safe ACDF surgery. Additionally, with appropriate counselling, shorter LoS can be achieved. This could help develop safe daycase surgery pathways, easing bed demands while improving access to treatment.

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