Incision and drainage of cutaneous abscesses is not associated with bacteremia in afebrile adults

B. J. Bobrow, Jr Pollack, S. Gamble, R. A. Seligson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Study objective: To determine the prevalence of bacteremia associated with incision and drainage (I and D) of cutaneous abscesses in afebrile adult emergency department patients. Such information has implications for the ED management of immunocompromised patients, patients with history of endocarditis, and patients with prosthetic appliances such as heart valves and artificial joints. Methods: We conducted a prospective clinical study in the adult ED of an urban tertiary care teaching hospital. Our subjects were afebrile patients aged 18 to 65 years with localized, nondraining, purulent cutaneous abscesses requiring outpatient surgical management. Before I and D, blood for aerobic and anaerobic blood culture was drawn under sterile conditions. The wound was opened and samples for aerobic wound culture were obtained. Two and 10 minutes after I and D, blood was again drawn, from separate venipunctures. All patients were discharged home with ED follow-up scheduled 48 hours later. Results: From the 50 patients who completed the study, 150 blood samples (50 before and 100 after I and D) and 50 wound samples were obtained. No blood culture was positive, but 30 wound cultures (64%) were positive; the most commonly isolated organism was Staphylococcus aureus. Conclusion: I and D of localized cutaneous abscesses in afebrile adults is unlikely to result in transient bacteremia. Larger studies are needed to determine whether routine antibiotic prophylaxis is necessary for afebrile patients undergoing I and D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-408
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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