Abscesses Requiring Surgical Drainage

Abscesses Requiring Surgical Drainage

Learn about common surgeries and conditions treated at Penn State Children’s Hospital. Our Pediatric Surgery team is experienced in many areas.

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Abscesses requiring surgical drainage

Infections in children are common problems. Antibiotic medicines are often effective in treating infections, but some infections result in the formation of an abscess or “pus pocket” that requires surgical drainage. 

If your child has an abscess pediatric surgeons at Penn State Children’s Hospital will evaluate the problem and may recommend drainage of the abscess. In some instances, they will drain an abscess in the outpatient office using topical or local anesthesia. More often they will recommend a brief general anesthetic and perform the procedure in the operation room. 

During surgical drainage, a small incision is made into the abscess and the pus is drained. The abscess cavity and nearby infection is cleaned up. A surgical drain (or less often wound packing) is placed in the abscess cavity. 

Timing of the procedure depends upon the nature of the infection, when the child ate last and the ability to use antibiotics to get the infection under control. Common abscesses that are not deep in body cavities (in the chest or in the abdomen) usually respond promptly to surgical drainage and antibiotic treatment.  Hospitalization is short. Children return in about a week for drain removal. The type of surgical drain that we place can be removed with little or no pain.

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