- Background Drains are widely used in lateral neck dissections (LNDs). Our objective was to compare outcomes of LNDs for papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) with and without drains. Methods One hundred sixty-five LNDs in 129 patients operated on from July 2001 to October 2008 were analyzed retrospectively. LNDs were divided according to the number of excised lymph nodes as follows: group A < median and group B > median. Further categorization was based on the use of a drain. Main outcome measures were wound complications requiring intervention. Results One hundred two LNDs were performed with a drain and 63 without. The overall rate of wound complications was 3%. There was no significant difference in complication rate between the drain and the non-drain group (group A: 1.8% vs 0; group B: 2.2% vs 7.9%, respectively). Conclusions Significant seromas/hematomas are rare complications of LNDs. Patients who undergo LND for PTC without a drain show no significantly increased rate of these complications.