Surgical drains of various types have been used, with the best intentions, in different operations for many years. It is often open to question whether they achieve their intended purpose despite many years of surgery. There is a paucity of evidence for the benefit of many types of surgical drainage and many surgeons still 'follow their usual practice'. With better evidence, management of surgical patients should improve and surgeons should be able to practise based upon sound scientific principles rather than simply 'doing what I always do'. Lack of definitive evidence has not helped the resolution of some controversial issues surrounding the use of surgical drainage.
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