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To date, there have been no clinical investigations of the usefulness of drains following colonic anastomosis in elective operations. We report a prospective study in which 49 patients were randomized to have a corrugated silastic drain (Portex) placed next to the colonic anastomosis. These patients were compared with a control group of 57 patients who had no drain. The two groups were similar in age, sex, diagnosis and site of anastomosis. There was no difference in outcome between the two groups. Anastomotic leakage occurred in six patients in each group. Wound infections were noted in 10 patients in each group. Two patients with a drain and one patient without a drain died from leakage at the anastomosis. This study provides no evidence to support the use of a corrugated drain after anastomosis of the colon.