Study objectives: To investigate differences in drainage amounts and early clinical outcomes associated with the use of Silastic drains, as compared with the conventional chest tube after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).
Design: Retrospective nonrandomized case control study.
Setting: A tertiary teaching hospital.
Patients and participants: Outcome data from 554 patients who underwent postoperative pericardial decompression using small Silastic drains were compared with those from 556 patients who had conventional chest tubes after first-time CABG at our institution between January 1 and August 1, 2000.
Measurement and results: Univariate analysis of preoperative characteristics was used to ensure similarity between the two patient groups. Operative mortality, mediastinitis, reoperation for bleeding, and early and late cardiac tamponade occurred in 9 patients (1.6%), 6 patients (1.1%), 6 patients (1.1%), 6 patients (1.1%), and 1 patient (0.2%), respectively, in the Silastic drain group, compared with 11 patients (2.0%), 9 patients (1.6%), 4 patients (0.7%), 2 patients (0.4%), and 6 patients (1.1%) in the conventional group. No statistically significant differences between the two drains were identified. Drainage amounts (mean ± SD) were 552.2 ± 281.8 mL and 548.8 mL ± 328.7 mL for the Silastic and conventional groups, respectively (p = 0.51). Postoperative length of stay was longer for the conventional chest tube group (median, 5 d; range, 1 to 119 d) when compared to the Silastic drain group (median, 4 d; range, 1 to 66 d; p = 0.01).
Conclusions: We demonstrated that small Silastic drains are equally as effective as the conventional, large-bore chest tubes after CABG with no significant risk of bleeding or pericardial tamponade. Additionally, use of Silastic drains allows more mobility than the conventional chest tubes. As a result of this study, there was a change in our clinical practice toward the exclusive use of Silastic drains after all cardiac surgical procedures.