In recent years, percutaneous abscess drainage (PAD) of intraabdominal abscesses has become an important tool with regard to the treatment of intraabdominal sepsis. The aim of this study is to assess the value of PAD in the treatment of postoperative retentions. Between 1995 and 1999, the postoperative course of 3346 patients undergoing major abdominal surgery was analyzed. Mortality, morbidity, and comparison of different locations of intraabdominal abscesses were assessed. PAD was considered successful when the patient improved clinically within 24 hours, a decrease in the size of the abscess formation was noted, and complete recovery without further surgical intervention occurred. Out of 3346 operated patients, 174 (5.2%) were diagnosed as having an intraabdominal abscess formation and were treated by PAD. In 63 patients the abscess developed within the upper quadrants, in 66 patients the abscess developed within the lower quadrants, and in the remaining 45 patients the abscess developed within the retroperitoneal cavity or pelvis. The success rate of PAD was 85.6% with a morbidity rate of 4.6%. The least successful location for PAD was the left upper quadrant. Patients with abscess drainage in the right upper and lower quadrant experienced a high success rate. One patient died due to the PAD procedure. Unsuccessful PAD was closely related to an increase in mortality. In the case of intraabdominal abscess formation after visceral surgery, PAD should be the primary procedure. Attention should be paid to abscess formations in the left upper quadrant because there is an increased likelihood of complications caused by PAD. © 2005 The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract.
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