Background: In this 2-site randomized trial, we investigated the effect of antiseptic drain care on bacterial colonization of surgical drains and infection after immediate prosthetic breast reconstruction. Methods: With IRB approval, we randomized patients undergoing bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction to drain antisepsis (treatment) for one side, with standard drain care (control) for the other. Antisepsis care included both: chlorhexidine disc dressing at drain exit site(s) and irrigation of drain bulbs twice daily with dilute sodium hypochlorite solution. Cultures were obtained from bulb fluid at 1 week and at drain removal, and from the subcutaneous drain tubing at removal. Positive cultures were defined as ≥1+ growth for fluid and >50 CFU for tubing. Results: Cultures of drain bulb fluid at 1 week (the primary endpoint) were positive in 9.9 % of treatment sides (10 of 101) versus 20.8 % (21 of 101) of control sides (p = 0.02). Drain tubing cultures were positive in 0 treated drains versus 6.2 % (6 of 97) of control drains (p = 0.03). Surgical site infection occurred within 30 days in 0 antisepsis sides versus 3.8 % (4 of 104) of control sides (p = 0.13), and within 1 year in three of 104 (2.9 %) of antisepsis sides versus 6 of 104 (5.8 %) of control sides (p = 0.45). Clinical infection occurred within 1 year in 9.7 % (6 of 62) of colonized sides (tubing or fluid) versus 1.5 % (2 of 136) of noncolonized sides (p = 0.03). Conclusions: Simple and inexpensive local antiseptic interventions with a chlorhexidine disc and hypochlorite solution reduce bacterial colonization of drains, and reduced drain colonization was associated with fewer infections.
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