A single-center, randomized, non-inferiority study evaluating seroma formation after mastectomy combined with flap fixation with or without suction drainage: protocol for the Seroma reduction and drAin fRee mAstectomy (SARA) trial

Lisa de Rooij*, Sander M. J. van Kuijk, Els R. M. van Haaren, Alfred Janssen, Yvonne L. J. Vissers, Geerard L. Beets, James van Bastelaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: eroma formation is a common complication after breast cancer surgery and can lead to delayed wound healing, infection, patient discomfort and repeated visits to the outpatient clinic. Mastectomy combined with flap fixation is becoming standard practice and is currently combined with closed-suction drainage. There is evidence showing that closed-suction drainage may be insufficient in preventing seroma formation. There is reasonable doubt whether there is still place for closed-suction drainage after mastectomy when flap fixation is performed.

We hypothesize that mastectomy combined with flap fixation and closed suction drainage does not cause a significant lower incidence of seroma aspirations, when compared to mastectomy and flap fixation alone. Furthermore, we expect that patients without drainage will experience significantly less discomfort and comparable rates of surgical site infections.

Methods: This is a randomized controlled trial in female breast cancer patients undergoing mastectomy and flap fixation using sutures with or without sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). Patients will be eligible for inclusion if they are older than 18 years, have an indication for mastectomy with or without sentinel procedure. Exclusion criteria are modified radical mastectomy, direct breast reconstruction, previous history of radiation therapy of the unilateral breast, breast conserving therapy and inability to give informed consent. A total of 250 patients will be randomly allocated to one of two groups: mastectomy combined with flap fixation and closed-suction drainage or mastectomy combined with flap fixation without drainage. Follow-up will be conducted up to six months postoperatively. The primary outcome is the proportion of patients undergoing one or more seroma aspirations. Secondary outcome measures consist of the number of invasive interventions, surgical site infection, quality of life measured using the SF-12 Health Survey, cosmesis, pain and number of additional outpatient department visits.

Discussion: To our knowledge, no randomized controlled trial has been conducted comparing flap fixation with and without closed-suction drainage with seroma aspiration as the primary outcome. This study could result in finding evidence that supports performing mastectomy without closed-suction drainage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number735
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2020


  • Mastectomy
  • Seroma
  • Drain free
  • Flap fixation

Cite this