Recurrence of Pilonidal Disease: Our Best is Not Good Enough

J Surg Res. 2018 Dec:232:430-436. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2018.06.071. Epub 2018 Jul 21.


Background: Recurrence rates of pilonidal disease have been reported to be high as 30%. Patients with recurrent pilonidal disease often develop chronic wounds and draining sinuses that incur long-term morbidity, disability, and decreased quality of life. The aim of this study was to characterize rates of recurrence in patients with pilonidal disease treated by pediatric surgeons.

Methods: A single center retrospective review of patients with pilonidal disease evaluated by pediatric surgeons from 2010 to 2015 was performed. Recurrence of pilonidal disease was defined as an episode of active pilonidal disease that required medical or surgical intervention >30 days from the preceding treatment. Repeated events proportional hazards regression modeling was performed to identify factors associated with time to recurrence.

Results: Among 307 patients treated for pilonidal disease, nearly 50% were male, and the median age at initial evaluation was 16 years (IQR 15-17). Approximately 45% were obese (BMI ≥ 95th percentile). The initial treatment during the study period was surgical excision in two-thirds and incision and drainage and/or antibiotics in one-third. The overall recurrence rate was 33%, with the majority of recurrences (80%) occurring within the first year. On multivariable analysis, obese BMI was the only factor independently associated with time to disease recurrence.

Conclusions: Pilonidal disease has a substantial recurrence rate even after surgical excision. Future studies investigating treatments that can prevent disease recurrence are needed.

Keywords: Adolescent; Obesity; Pediatric; Pilonidal cyst; Pilonidal disease; Recurrence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Drainage*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilonidal Sinus / epidemiology*
  • Pilonidal Sinus / therapy
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Secondary Prevention / methods
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents