Trick of the Trade: High volume irrigation of abscesses

Oct 16, 12
Trick of the Trade: High volume irrigation of abscesses

AbscessLarge-sized abscess often have pus trapped in deep crevices and pockets. Irrigation can help express the pus. How can you set up a high-volume irrigation system?  

Trick of the Trade
Administer normal saline through a pressure IV bag and irrigate using an 18 gauge angiocatheter.


Thanks to Dr. Julian Villar (EM resident at UCSF-SFGH) for the idea and action photo! Read his insightful comments in the Comments section.

Editorial comments 11/7/12:

  • Be aware that irrigation has not actually been shown to be necessary in incision and drainage procedures of abscess.
  • Be sure that there is a large exit hole for the high-pressure irrigation or else you will be injecting into a closed system, potentially dissecting through surrounding tissue planes.

Author information

Michelle Lin, MD

ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

The post Trick of the Trade: High volume irrigation of abscesses appeared first on ALiEM.

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