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Incision and Drainage

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What do I need to know about incision and drainage?

Incision and drainage is a procedure to drain a pocket of fluid, such as pus or blood.

How do I prepare for incision and drainage?

  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicine before the procedure, and when to stop.
  • Tell your provider about all your allergies. Tell him or her if you had an allergic reaction to local anesthesia or antibiotics.
  • You may need blood tests, an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI. Tell your provider if you had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious damage. Tell your provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Your provider will tell you if you need to stop eating or drinking before the procedure, and when to stop.

What will happen during incision and drainage?

Your healthcare provider will give you medicine to numb the area so you do not feel pain during the procedure. He or she will make an incision in your skin above the pocket of fluid. Your healthcare provider will drain the fluid and clean out the area with gauze or a cotton swab. Your wound may be packed loosely with gauze to keep it open so it can continue to drain as it heals. A bandage will be placed over your wound to absorb the drainage.

What should I expect after incision and drainage?

Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You may be allowed to go home when a healthcare provider sees that you are okay.

What are the risks of incision and drainage?

You may have pain or bleeding at the site of the incision. You may have a scar after your wound heals. Fluid may build up again and create a pocket in the same area. You may get an infection at the site of your wound or throughout your body.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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