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Abscess Incision And Drainage


An abscess is an area under the skin where pus collects. An abscess incision and drainage (I and D) is a procedure to drain the pus. An abscess is most commonly caused by bacteria and can occur anywhere on the body.


Before your procedure:

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

The night before your procedure:

  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

Caregivers will give you medicine to numb the area and keep you free from pain during the procedure. Your caregiver will make a cut in your skin over the abscess. A device wrapped in gauze, or a cotton swab, will be used to clean the inside of the abscess. The wound will be washed with saline (salt water). The abscess cavity will be packed with plain or medicated gauze. A dry bandage will be placed over your wound and taped down.

After your procedure:

Caregivers will monitor your heartbeat and breathing. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. Someone must stay with you for 24 hours when you get home.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure.
  • You get sick or have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.


You may have pain or bleeding at your procedure site. A scar may form on your skin as it heals. Your incision may heal slowly if you have a medical condition that causes poor circulation (blood flow), such as diabetes. Your abscess may come back, even after treatment. You may need another I and D if the abscess comes back. The bacteria may spread to your heart or other organs. This can be life-threatening. Ask your caregiver for more information about risks.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.