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What are abscesses?

In paediatric surgery, abscesses refer to localised collections of pus that can occur in children. 

What causes abscesses?

Abscesses can develop as a result of an infection. 


Common causes include:

  • Bacterial Infections: Certain bacteria can invade tissues and cause localized infections, leading to the formation of abscesses. These infections may arise from various sources, such as wounds, surgical sites, or underlying conditions like appendicitis.

  • Inflammatory Conditions: In some cases, abscesses can be associated with inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn's disease or diverticulitis, which can affect children as well.

What are the symptoms of abscesses?

The symptoms of an abscess can vary depending on its location and severity. 


Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Localised swelling, warmth, and redness at the site of the abscess.

  • Pain or tenderness, especially when touched or pressed.

  • Presence of a fluctuant mass (a soft, fluid-filled lump).

  • Fever and general malaise.

  • In some cases, the abscess may eventually form a visible or palpable fluctuant "head" that can be drained.

How to treat abscesses?

The treatment approach for abscesses in paediatric surgery typically involves a combination of medical and surgical interventions. 

Here are the general treatment options:

  • Antibiotics: Depending on the severity of the infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to help control the spread of the infection and prevent complications. However, antibiotics alone are not usually sufficient to completely treat an abscess.

  • Incision and Drainage: Surgical drainage is often necessary to remove the accumulated pus from the abscess. A healthcare professional will make an incision into the abscess and drain the contents. In some cases, a small drain may be placed to facilitate continued drainage.

  • Culturing: Samples of the pus may be collected for laboratory analysis to identify the specific bacteria causing the infection. This information can help guide appropriate antibiotic selection.

  • Follow-up: After drainage, the wound is typically dressed, and follow-up visits may be required to monitor healing and ensure that the infection has resolved. In some cases, additional procedures or treatments may be necessary.



It's important to note that the management of abscesses in paediatric surgery should be carried out by a doctor. They will assess the specific circumstances of the child's condition and provide tailored treatment recommendations based on their expertise and the individual situation.

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