Background: Although our previous randomized controlled trial showed that there was no difference in postoperative complications after gastric cancer surgery between patients with and without a prophylactic drains (PDs), PDs are commonly used by most surgeons and at most institutions. However, these results have not yet been validated elsewhere. The purpose of this study was to analyze the incidence, characteristics, and risk factors for a postoperative percutaneous catheter drainage (PCD) procedure after gastric cancer surgery when PDs were not used. Methods: We reviewed data from 1989 patients who underwent gastrectomy with lymphadenectomy for gastric cancer with curative intent from January 2012 to December 2013. Results: The incidence of PCD in the abdomen was 1.8 % (22/1249) and 9.1 % (67/740) in patients with and without PD, respectively. In the without-PD group, age [odds ratio (OR) 1.032; p = 0.013], male gender (OR for female 0.38; p = 0.005), open surgery (OR for minimally invasive surgery 0.16; p = 0.013), and longer operative time (OR 1.01; p < 0.001) were independent risk factors for postoperative PCD in the abdomen. In the without-PD group, no microbes were detected in the peritoneal fluid obtained by PCD in 72.1 % (44/61) of patients who underwent PCD, and the most commonly identified organisms were Escherichia coli and Candida albicans. Conclusion: Not using a PD increased the risk of PCD postoperatively, but no microbes in peritoneal fluid were detected in the most patients. Selective use of PD in patients during gastric cancer surgery may be possible using our risk factor analysis.
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