This article will provide you with a general guide to abscess drainage, a common procedure to drain such infections.
Introduction to the Problem
As you may have already read, abscesses may be present in any external part of the body. They are commonly found in the gums, breast, groin, armpits, buttocks (pilodinal abscess). Abscess may also be present internally such as in the vagina, liver, rectum, stomach and intestines. Symptoms interfering with the individual’s activities of daily living can develop. Pain and discomfort are the usual symptoms, and in certain cases, fever may arise.
Abscesses may be treated at home (with medications), however, consulting a physician initially is essential. Seek immediate medical care, especially if pregnant. In addition, people who have low immune system (diabetes and cancer patients) must also seek treatment.
Medicines are prescribed to treat abscesses such as antibiotics, pain killers and antipyretics (medicine for fever).
Abscess Drainage Options
Abscess drainage is another treatment option. This may be done in two ways:
• Needle aspiration – the site with pus is cleansed with an antiseptic agent such as iodine cleanser. A sterile needle is inserted in the pus. The pus is drained by means of aspirating it to the syringe. Needle aspiration technique is usually done without anesthesia. However, if the pain is intolerable, local anesthesia (a numbing medicine injected to the site) may be given.
• Incision and drainage – usually done under local anesthesia. General anesthesia is given when the abscess is deep. Other things to consider in giving general anesthesia are: age (such as children), and mental status of the patient (mentally-ill). In general anesthesia, a mask is secured in the face to cover the mouth and nose to release oxygen and other sedating gases, thus putting the patient to sleep.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, skin incision is done. The capsule enclosing the pus is carefully extracted out, making sure the capsule will not break. If the capsule breaks, its contents (pus, bacteria, blood, dead tissues and skin cells) will spill out in the area.
The capsule containing the pus is very thin, and most often, the capsule breaks. The pus will be drained out in a container or suctioned by a tubing to completely empty the area with pus. The specimen (pus) will be sent to the laboratory to further analyze the causative bacteria (therefore aiding the physician in prescribing medications).
The surrounding tissues will also be incised to create a clean cut. This will allow the new cells to take over the surgical site and develop new tissues. Incising the surrounding tissues will mean a higher chance of the abscess to not recur.
What to expect after surgery:
- Pain and fever – may be present after surgery due to previous infection. Pain and fever may be continuing even the abscess has been removed, due to the healing process happening in the surgical site.
- Blood and pus – may drain out of the surgical site’s incision.
What to do after drainage surgery:
- After the surgery, the surgical site will be covered with topical antibiotic (medicine applied to skin) and sterile gauze. Proper wound care will also be taught by the doctor.
- Balanced diet is recommended (based on food pyramid) to ensure sufficient nutrients that the body receives. Plenty of fluids too
- Using a warm compress is recommended to alleviate pain and reduce swelling after surgery.
- Good physical hygiene – frequent hand washing and daily bathing are recommended to prevent recurrences.
Abscesses may recur and in this case, do not prick or attempt to self prescribe medicines on your own, as this can have a dangerous side effect. Medications may also interact with other medications. In addition, you may be allergic to a certain medication you were not aware of. Allergy can be as mild as redness and itchiness to as severe as difficulty of breathing, so be careful.
A follow-up visit is highly recommended, to allow the doctor to assess the surgical site for any progress. A physical examination will be performed to assess the entire body for any new abscess. Medications may be adjusted during follow-up check up. The previous dosage may be lessened or decreased, and new medications may be added to your list as well.