Drainage Alone May Be Best in Treating Children's Abscesses

Study suggests changing dressings increases risk of pain and postoperative hospitalization
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Avoiding changing dressings after incision and drainage of cutaneous abscesses in children can effectively treat the condition and avoid postoperative pain and hospitalization, according to a study in the October issue of the AORN Journal.

Mary Beth Koehler, R.N., of Cape Fear Pediatrics in Wilmington, N.C., and Don K. Nakayama, M.D., of Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Ga., conducted a study of 16 children who were treated for cutaneous abscesses using drainage and daily water immersion without dressing changes and 19 children with the same condition who were treated with drainage followed by postoperative dressing changes.

In the drainage-only group there was a recurrence of abscess in only one patient, and all patients were free of pain at 24 hours, whereas seven (37 percent) of the children whose dressings were changed experienced significant pain, six of whom required intravenous pain relief and 11 (58 percent) of whom were admitted to hospital, the researchers found.

"We found that soft tissue abscesses in children resolve without repacking or wet-to-moist dressing changes with an acceptably low rate of abscess recurrence. All of our participants were pain-free with this approach, and few required hospitalization," the authors write. "We believe a key first step is to gently remove the gauze packing placed at the time of incision after it has fully saturated, with the child immersing the affected site in a tub bath."

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