What to Expect During a Percutaneous Abscess Drainage Procedure

Image-guided, minimally invasive procedures such as percutaneous abscess drainage are most often performed by a specially trained interventional radiologist.

You will be positioned on the examining table.

You will be connected to monitors that track your heart rate, blood pressure and pulse during the procedure.

A nurse or technologist will insert an I.V. into a vein in your hand or arm so that sedative medication can be given intravenously. You also may receive general anesthesia.

The area of your body where the catheter is to be inserted will be shaved, sterilized and covered with a surgical drape.

A very small nick is made in the skin at the site.

Using image-guidance, a long, thin, hollow plastic tube (catheter) is inserted through the skin and manipulated to the site of the abscess to allow for drainage of the infected fluid.

Your I.V. will be removed.

If needed, the catheter may be connected to a drainage bag outside of your body. The tube will remain in place until the fluid has stopped draining and your infection is gone. It may take several days to drain the abscess.

Time Consideration

This procedure is usually completed in 20 minutes to an hour.

Other Factors

You will feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted into your vein for the I.V. and when the local anesthetic is injected.

If the case is done with sedation, the I.V. sedative will make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You may or may not remain awake, depending on how deeply you are sedated.

You may feel slight pressure when the catheter is inserted but no serious discomfort.

You will remain in the recovery room until you are completely awake and ready to be moved to your hospital bed.

In general, patients who undergo percutaneous abscess drainage remain hospitalized for a few days. Further follow up is usually done on an outpatient basis and you will be seen by your interventional radiologist at regular intervals to ensure that the healing process is proceeding according to plan. Once you have recovered and your interventional radiologist is satisfied that healing is complete, the catheter will be removed.