Abscess Drainage

Abscess drainage is the technique used to remove an infection that is characterized by the presence of pus surrounded by an area of tissue that is inflamed. Abscesses must be drained of the pus. Antibiotics alone will not heal an abscess. If left untreated, an abscess can progress and involve deeper tissue with the potential to develop into a life-threatening, systemic infection. Most abscesses occur on the skin, frequently in hair-bearing areas such as the groin. Usually these superficial abscesses can be drained with a surgical lance or other means by a medical professional using local anesthesia. The wound is bandaged and if appropriate, antibiotics prescribed. If the abscess cannot be drained effectively at bedside, or if the pain is too great for local anesthesia to be helpful, or other reasons, the procedure can be drained in the operating room under sedation or general anesthesia. Abscesses also can form in muscle, organs, or body cavities. The diagnosis is made with CT or ultrasound scans. Interventional radiologists drain internal abscesses with through a puncture of the skin (percutaneously) into the affected space, using a long needle and CT, ultrasound, or fluoroscopy guidance. A small drainage tube may be left in place for a few days to drain the fluid.

Interventional radiology is a medical specialty that uses minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems, and it is an integral part of comprehensive patient care. The UAB Medicine interventional radiology team is a dedicated group of skilled, innovative health care professionals who are committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients.

The group uses the latest and most advanced technology and imaging methods, including fluoroscopy, ultrasound, and CT scans, to treat tumors as well as peripheral arterial, venous, urologic, and hepatobiliary diseases. Each of our five dedicated angiography suites has the full range of imaging technology needed for complex procedures, along with the latest in patient monitoring and documentation systems. Because UAB Medicine is an academic health center, patients may be offered participation in clinical research trials, which can provide access to new techniques and treatments that are not available elsewhere in the area.

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