An abscess is an infected fluid collection within the body. In general, people who have an abscess will experience fever, chills and pain in the approximate location of the area that is involved. If a patient has these symptoms, it is not uncommon that they will undergo an imaging test, (usually a CT scan or an ultrasound), to assist in identifying and making the correct diagnosis of an abscess. Once the diagnosis of an abscess has been made, your physician and an interventional radiologist will work together to decide the appropriate therapy. As long as it is deemed safe, percutaneous abscess drainage offers a minimally invasive therapy that can be used to treat the abscess.
In percutaneous abscess drainage, an interventional radiologist uses imaging guidance (CT, ultrasound or fluoroscopy) to place a thin needle into the abscess to remove or drain the infected fluid from an area of the body such as the chest, abdomen or pelvis. Usually, a small drainage tube is left in place to drain the abscess fluid. It may take several days for all the fluid to be removed. Occasionally, abscesses that cannot be treated by percutaneous drainage may require surgical drainage in the operating room.
Percutaneous abscess drainage is typically performed with the guidance of CT, ultrasound or x-ray fluoroscopic imaging.
How is the procedure performed?
Image-guided, minimally invasive procedures such as percutaneous abscess drainage are most often performed by a specially trained interventional radiologist in an interventional radiology suite or under Fluoroscopy / Ultrasound guidance in a separate area of the radiology department.
You will be positioned on the examining table.
You may be connected to monitors that track your heart rate, blood pressure and pulse during the procedure.
A nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm so that sedative medication can be given intravenously.
Your physician will numb the area with a local anesthetic.
A very small skin incision is made at the site.
After the patient is sedated for the procedure, the interventional radiologist uses image-guidance to place a catheter (a long, thin, hollow plastic tube) through the skin and into the abscess to allow for drainage of the infected fluid.
Your intravenous line will be removed.
This procedure is usually completed in 20 minutes to an hour.
If needed, the catheter may be connected to a drainage bag outside of your body. The tube will remain in place until the fluid has stopped draining and your infection is gone. It may take several days to drain the abscess.
What will I experience during and after the procedure?
Devices to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure will be attached to your body.
You will feel a slight pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein for the intravenous line (IV) and when the local anesthetic is injected.
If the case is done with sedation, the intravenous (IV) sedative will make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You may or may not remain awake, depending on how deeply you are sedated.
You may feel slight pressure when the catheter is inserted, but no serious discomfort.
You will remain in the recovery room until you are completely awake and ready to be moved to your hospital bed.
In general, patients who undergo percutaneous abscess drainage will remain hospitalized for a few days. Further follow up is usually done on an outpatient basis and you will be seen by your interventional radiologist at regular intervals to ensure that the healing process is proceeding according to plan. Once you have recovered and your interventional radiologist is satisfied that healing is complete, the catheter will be removed.
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