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Percutaneous Abscess Drainage

Last updated April 5, 2018

Percutaneous Abscess Drainage is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat abscesses. An abscess is defined as any collection of infectious fluid within the body.


Background Information:

What are the other Names for the Procedure?

  • Abscess Drainage using Percutaneous Incision

What is Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure? (General Explanation)

  • Percutaneous Abscess Drainage is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat abscesses. An abscess is defined as any collection of infectious fluid within the body
  • Chills, fever, and pain at the location of abscess are some of the symptoms accompanied with the abscess
  • Individuals with an infectious abscess with symptoms are usually sent to for an ultrasound or CT scan to make the diagnosis and determine the treatment
  • The Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure involves inserting a thin needle into the abscess using image guidance, to remove fluid from the abscess

What part of the Body does the Procedure involve?

The part of the body involved in the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure depends upon the location of the abscess.

Why is the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure Performed?

  • Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure is performed to remove infectious abscess fluid from areas such as the abdomen, pelvis, and chest
  • An abscess may form sometimes, after a surgery or secondary to infections such as pancreatitis or appendicitis

What is the Equipment used? (Description of Equipment)

Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure uses the following equipment:

  • Catheter (a thin, hollow tube) to drain the fluid
  • CT scan:
    • A CT scanner that appears like a big box with a hole inside
    • The examination table on which the patient lies down; the table slides into the hole during the procedure
    • X-ray tube and electronic X-ray detectors that rotates around the patient
    • Images are taken from a computer
    • A CT scan is used for image guidance to place the needle into the abscess
  • Fluoroscopy:
    • X-ray machine is used in fluoroscopy
    • Fluoroscopy basically converts x-ray images into real-time video images
  • Ultrasound - the equipment for ultrasound imaging consists of:
    • An ultrasound transducer
    • A central processing unit
    • A printer

A transducer is used to send high-frequency sound waves in the body and the computer creates the image based on the echoes of that sound returning from the patient’s body.

What are the Recent Advances in the Procedure?

There have been no recent advances in the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure.

What is the Cost of performing the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure?

The cost of Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of your health insurance, annual deductibles, co-pay requirements, out-of-network and in-network of your healthcare providers and healthcare facilities.

In many cases, an estimate may be provided before the procedure. The final amount depends upon the findings during the surgery/procedure and post-operative care that is necessary.

When do you need a Second Opinion, prior to the Procedure?

  • It is normal for a patient to feel uncomfortable and confused with a sudden inflow of information regarding Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure and what needs to be done
  • If the patient needs further reassurance or a second opinion, a physician will almost always assist in recommending another physician
  • Also, if the procedure involves multiple steps or has many alternatives, the patient may take a second opinion to understand and choose the best one. They can also choose to approach another physician independently

What are some Helpful Resources?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25531361 (accessed on 03/10/2015)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3036360/ (accessed on 03/10/2015)

Prior to Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure:

How does the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure work?

  • The Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure is basically used to remove infectious fluid from the abscess
  • On removal of the infectious fluid from the abscess, the infection cannot spread to other areas of the body; also, there is symptomatic relief observed after the procedure
  • The patient is prescribed oral antibiotics to completely remove the abscess and stop its recurrence

How is the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure Performed?

The Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure is performed in the following manner:

  • The patient is positioned on an examination table. He/she is hooked to various devices to monitor the vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse
  • An IV line is inserted into the patient’s arm vein to inject sedative medications
  • The site of needle insertion is cleaned, sterilized, and numbed using local anesthetic medication
  • Using imaging guidance, a catheter is inserted through the skin to advance into the abscess
  • The infectious fluid is removed from the abscess by attaching a syringe to the catheter
  • Once all the fluid is removed, the catheter is removed from the abscess; the IV line is also removed
  • In some cases, the catheter may be left in the abscess and connected to a drainage bag to drain more fluid, which may take several days

Where is the Procedure Performed?

The Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure is performed as an outpatient procedure at a hospital.

Who Performs the Procedure?

An interventional radiologist or general surgeon performs the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure.

How long will the Procedure take?

  • A Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure takes anywhere from 20-60 minutes
  • If a catheter is left in the abscess and drainage bag connected, it may take several days before it stops draining and infection is resolved

Who interprets the Result?

An interventional radiologist interprets the results of the drainage procedure.

What Preparations are needed, prior to the Procedure?

The following preparations may be needed prior to the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure:

  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient, including information related to the medications that are currently being taken
  • Do inform the medical professional if you have a history of any medical conditions such as a heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or kidney disease
  • It is advisable to wear comfortable and loose clothes. Avoid wearing any metal objects or jewelry, as it may interfere with the X-ray
  • Women should notify the physician, if they are pregnant or breastfeeding their child; as many such procedures may not be performed on pregnant women
  • Depending on the procedure adopted, the patient may be asked for certain bowel or bladder preparations before the preparation sessions
  • The patient may be asked to avoid eating or drinking several hours before the procedure

What is the Consent Process before the Procedure?

A physician will request your consent for Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure using an Informed Consent Form.

Consent for the Procedure: A “consent” is your approval to undergo a procedure. A consent form is signed after the risks and benefits of the procedure, and alternative treatment options, are discussed. This process is called informed consent. 

You must sign the forms only after you are totally satisfied by the answers to your questions. In case of minors and individuals unable to personally give their consent, the individual’s legal guardian or next of kin, shall give their consent for the procedure.

What are the Benefits versus Risks, for this Procedure?

Following are the benefits of Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure:

  • It is minimally-invasive procedure
  • It has a faster recovery period than surgery
  • It is usually a very successful procedure

Following are the risks of Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure:

  • Since catheter is inserted through a small skin incision, there is a chance of developing infection at that site
  • In rare cases, a misplaced catheter may damage organs adjacent to the abscess
  • The local anesthetic, used in the procedure, may cause allergic reaction in some patients

What are the Limitations of Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure?

Large and complex abscesses may not resolve with Percutaneous Abscess Drainage and may require surgical treatment.

What are some Questions for your Physician?

Some of the basic questions that you might ask your healthcare provider or physician are as follows:

  • What is a Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure?
  • Why is this procedure necessary? How will it help?
  • How soon should I get it done? Is it an emergency?
  • Who are the medical personnel involved in this procedure?
  • Where is the procedure performed?
  • What are the risks while performing the procedure?
  • What are the complications that might take place during recovery?
  • What are the possible side effects from the procedure? How can I minimize these side effects?
  • How long will it take to recover? When can I resume normal work?
  • How many such procedures have you (the physician) performed?
  • Are there any lifestyle restrictions or modifications required after the procedure is performed?
  • Are there any follow-up tests, periodic visits to the healthcare facility required after the procedure?
  • Is there any medication that needs to be taken for life after the procedure?
  • What are the costs involved?

During the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure:

What is to be expected during the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure?

  • The patient may feel a slight sting when the IV line is inserted into the patient’s arm vein and local anesthetic is injected at the site of catheter insertion
  • If the patient is sedated during the procedure, he/she will feel relaxed and sleep through the procedure
  • The patient’s vital signs are monitored by using various devices
  • The patient is moved to the recovery room after the procedure

What kind of Anesthesia is given, during the Procedure?

Typically, general anesthesia is not used during a Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure.

How much Blood will you lose, during the Procedure?

Since the procedure is minimally-invasive, the blood loss involved during the procedure is minimal.

What are the possible Risks and Complications during the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure?

In rare cases, a misplaced catheter may damage tissues and organs around the abscess site.

What Post-Operative Care is needed at the Healthcare Facility after the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure?

  • No specific post-operative care is needed at healthcare facility after the procedure
  • Regular follow-up with a healthcare provider is maintained, until healing of the abscess is complete

After the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure:

What is to be expected after the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure?

  • Patients are usually hospitalized after the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure to monitor the symptoms, healing, and recovery
  • If the procedure is done as an outpatient procedure, the patient may need to follow-up with their physician to ensure resolution of symptoms and complete healing

When do you need to call your Physician?

The patient should contact their physician in the following situations:

  • If there is bleeding at the site of catheter insertion
  • There are signs of infection at the catheter insertion site, such as redness, warmth at the site, or high fever
  • Symptoms from the abscess do not resolve completely, or they get worse

What Post-Operative Care is needed at Home after the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure?

No specific post-operative care is needed at home after the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure.

How long does it normally take to fully recover, from the Procedure?

Generally, the patients are able to resume their normal activities 24 hours after the procedure.

Additional Information:

What happens to tissue (if any), taken out during the Procedure?

  • Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure does not involve the removal of any body tissue
  • However, the abscess fluid removed may be sent to the lab for culture studies, to determine the cause of infection

When should you expect results from the pathologist regarding tissue taken out, during the Procedure?

  • The result of the culture studies may help determine the type of antibiotics needed for treatment purposes (if antibiotics are necessary)
  • The results of abscess fluid study sent for culture may take up to 10 days

Who will you receive a Bill from, after the Percutaneous Abscess Drainage radiology procedure?

It is important to note that the number of bills that the patient may receive depends on the arrangement the healthcare facility has with the physician and other healthcare providers.

Sometimes, the patient may get a single bill that includes the healthcare facility and the consultant physician charges. Sometimes, the patient might get multiple bills depending on the healthcare provider involved. For instance, the patient may get a bill from:

  • The hospital, where the procedure is performed
  • Healthcare providers, physicians, radiologists, and pathologists who are involved in the process

The patient is advised to inquire and confirm the type of billing, before Percutaneous Abscess Drainage procedure is performed.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 26, 2015
Last updated: April 5, 2018