Draining a Breast Abscess

Topic Overview

Mastitis that develops into an infected pocket of fluid, or breast abscess, usually needs to be drained.

  • A small abscess can be drained with a needle, sometimes using ultrasound to guide the needle. First, a local anesthetic medicine is injected to numb the skin over the infected breast tissue. This procedure can be done in a doctor's office.
  • A large abscess must be cut open (lanced) to let the pus drain out. Usually a local anesthetic medicine is injected to numb the breast tissue first. General anesthesia is usually not needed for this treatment unless the abscess is deep. After the infected area has been drained, it may be left open and packed with sterile gauze or closed with a small tube left in so the pus can drain out. This procedure may be done in a doctor's office or an outpatient surgery setting.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised January 10, 2012

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