The postoperative use of negative-pressure tube suction drainage to obliterate dead space and cause adherence of flaps has gained widespread popularity here and abroad in the treatment of radical mastectomy and neck dissection wounds.1-4 A review of the literature, however, does not reveal the many other applications of this form of drainage, nor are the safeguards required in its use stressed sufficiently.
Prior to the use of this method of drainage, large, bulky dressings, with varying degrees of pressure, were employed in conjunction with soft drains, usually of the Penrose type. Profuse drainage and soaked dressings were the rule where considerable dissection had been done. The danger of bacterial inoculation of the wound attendant upon soaked dressings has been repeatedly demonstrated.5 Frequent reaspiration, tenting of the axilla, and supraclavicular collections were common. The comfort and cleanliness of the patient left much to be desired.
In 1952, Sheppard described