What Are MIIPs? / Infection, Pus Pocket, Abscess

What is an abscess?

An abscess is a pocket of infected fluid or pus inside the body. Abscesses can cause pain and fever. Abscesses close to the skin cause redness and swelling that you can see. Abscesses deep in the body can be seen with medical imaging.

An abscess usually has a wall around it. Your body makes this wall to contain the infection. The tradeoff is that the wall also makes it hard for your immune system to attack the infection. Medical drainage of the abscess can help them heal.

How did I get an abscess?

Abscesses can develop from an infection after injury, inflammation, or surgery. They are usually caused by bacteria. Parasites rarely cause abscesses in the developed world.

How is an abscess treated?

Abscesses are treated by draining the pus inside. Options depend on where the abscess is:

    • Abscesses near the skin can be opened with a scalpel and drained through the skin. The abscess cavity can be packed with gauze to help it heal.
    • Abscesses deep in the body can be drained through a long soft tube inserted from the skin using medical imaging. This is a minimally-invasive image-guided procedure (MIIP) typically performed by an Interventional Radiologist (IR).
    • Less commonly, abscesses deep in the body are drained by a surgeon through a larger incision. This is more common if there is not a safe route to drain the abscess through the skin.

Sometimes an abscess can form an abnormal connection to another body organ, such as the intestine. When this happens, it may take longer for the abscess to heal with the help of the drainage tube or you may need further treatment or surgery.

When can my abscess drain be removed?

The abscess drainage tube can be removed once the infection is cleared and any abnormal connections have resolved. Your doctors will usually remove the tube if:

    • You are feeling better. You have no fevers or pain from the abscess.
    • The tube no longer drains any fluid. It is important to monitor how much fluid comes out of the tube every day. If the tube no longer drains fluid, it could be because the abscess has been treated or because the tube is blocked.
    • There are no abnormal connections involving the abscess. Sometimes, the abnormal connections require further treatment. You should discuss this with your doctors.

For more information:

For more information on infections after surgery:

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