Incision and drainage

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Incision and drainage
Other namesClinical lancing
Drainage (medical)

Incision and drainage (I&D), also known as clinical lancing, are minor surgical procedures to release pus or pressure built up under the skin, such as from an abscess, boil, or infected paranasal sinus. It is performed by treating the area with an antiseptic, such as iodine-based solution, and then making a small incision to puncture the skin using a sterile instrument such as a sharp needle or a pointed scalpel. This allows the pus to escape by draining out through the incision.

Good medical practice for large abdominal abscesses requires insertion of a drainage tube, preceded by insertion of a peripherally inserted central catheter line to enable readiness of treatment for possible septic shock.

Adjunct antibiotics[edit]

Uncomplicated cutaneous abscesses do not need antibiotics after successful drainage.[1][2][3]

In incisional abscesses[edit]

For incisional abscesses, it is recommended that incision and drainage is followed by covering the area with a thin layer of gauze followed by sterile dressing. The dressing should be changed and the wound irrigated with normal saline at least twice each day.[4] In addition, it is recommended to administer an antibiotic active against staphylococci and streptococci, preferably vancomycin when there is a risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.[4] The wound can be allowed to close by secondary intention. Alternatively, if the infection is cleared and healthy granulation tissue is evident at the base of the wound, the edges of the incision may be reapproximated, such as by using butterfly stitches, staples or sutures.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Macfie J, Harvey J (1977). "The treatment of acute superficial abscesses: a prospective clinical trial". The British Journal of Surgery. 64 (4): 264–6. doi:10.1002/bjs.1800640410. PMID 322789. S2CID 13519212.
  2. ^ Llera JL, Levy RC (1985). "Treatment of cutaneous abscess: a double-blind clinical study". Annals of Emergency Medicine. 14 (1): 15–9. doi:10.1016/S0196-0644(85)80727-7. PMID 3880635.
  3. ^ Lee MC, Rios AM, Aten MF, et al. (2004). "Management and outcome of children with skin and soft tissue abscesses caused by community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus". Pediatr. Infect. Dis. J. 23 (2): 123–7. doi:10.1097/01.inf.0000109288.06912.21. PMID 14872177. S2CID 32423795.
  4. ^ a b c Duff, Patrick (2009). "Diagnosis and Management of Postoperative Infection". The Global Library of Women's Medicine. doi:10.3843/GLOWM.10032. ISSN 1756-2228.