After reviewing 21 patients who have had percutaneous abdominal abscess drainage, we believe that the procedure should be considered for those abscesses that are unilocular without septations, with safe access being a key variable dictating the use of percutaneous abdominal abscess drainage rather than surgery. A computerized tomographic scan of the abdomen should be employed at some stage of the percutaneous abdominal abscess drainage procedure to facilitate safe access to the abscess and to distinguish a synchronous abscess where present. In addition, we believe that percutaneous abdominal abscess drainage should be considered for postsurgical abscesses only and not those that are spontaneous in nature or where the original abnormality cannot be accurately surmised. With regard to catheter management, frequent irrigation of the catheter must be carried out at least every 4 to 6 hours, with high levels of antibiotics present in the blood before irrigation. This must be done to obviate the most frequent and potentially lethal complication of the procedure, namely sepsis. Percutaneous abdominal abscess drainage, although safe for the most part, is capable of inducing considerable morbidity. Our data suggest that percutaneous abdominal abscess drainage is not as efficacious as previous reports have suggested. Traditional surgical drainage techniques are best utilized for those abscesses that are multiple, highly viscous, inaccessible, spontaneous, or unresponsive to percutaneous abdominal abscess drainage.
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