Purpose: To assess ultrasonographically (US) guided needle aspiration of breast abscesses as an alternative to surgical incision and drainage or indwelling catheter placement.
Materials and methods: The authors reviewed hospital records from 1995 to 1997 for patients undergoing US-guided aspiration of breast abscesses. Two radiologists reviewed the US, mammographic, and US-guided aspiration studies for the size, appearance, and drainage of abscesses. The medical records were reviewed for follow-up data.
Results: Thirteen patients aged 15-69 years underwent US-guided percutaneous aspiration of 13 breast abscesses. All patients presented with a palpable mass, nine of which were retroareolar. At US, four abscesses were oval, nine (including three with septa) were irregularly shaped, and five had a thick rind. Of seven abscesses 2.4 cm or smaller, two were almost completely drained and five were completely aspirated. All seven abscesses resolved without surgery. Of six women with incompletely aspirated abscesses larger than 2.4 cm (one 3 cm, four 4 cm, one 7 cm), five required surgical referral; one of these cases was referred after repeat aspiration had been performed.
Conclusion: Percutaneous aspiration of breast abscesses can enable diagnosis of abscesses and be used to treat small abscesses if they are completely drained. Partial drainage of abscesses larger than 3 cm may be palliative, but incision and drainage still may be necessary for definitive treatment.