Association of Bartholin cysts and abscesses and sexually transmitted infections

Am J Emerg Med. 2021 Jun:44:323-327. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2020.04.027. Epub 2020 Apr 15.


Introduction: Bartholin gland cysts or abscesses account for many gynecologic visits in the emergency department (ED). Previous smaller studies have suggested a link between Bartholin cysts/abscesses and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but few studies have involved the ED.

Methods: We retrospectively identified patients aged 18 years or older seen in 1 ED between January 2012 and March 2017 who had urinalysis and urine culture and/or were tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomonas by nucleic acid amplification testing. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to evaluate associations between Bartholin cysts/abscess and demographics, laboratory findings, and ED diagnoses.

Results: Data were collected for 75,000 ED patients; 64 patients had a diagnosis of Bartholin cyst or abscess, 40 of whom were also tested for Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis. Ten percent of patients with a Bartholin cyst/abscess were infected with N gonorrhoeae, compared with 3% of those without a Bartholin cyst/abscess (P = .008). The rates of C trachomatis and Trichomonas vaginalis infections were 13% and 26%, respectively, among patients with a Bartholin cyst/abscess, compared with 8% and 30%, respectively, among those without a Bartholin cyst/abscess (P > .05 for both). On regression analysis, only increased urobilinogen level (β, 0.31; odds ratio, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.11-1.66; P = .003) and infection with N gonorrhoeae (β, 1.69; odds ratio, 5.40; 95% CI, 1.43-20.35; P = .01) were associated with a Bartholin cyst/abscess.

Conclusions: Clinicians in the ED should consider testing patients with a Bartholin cyst/abscess for gonorrhea.

Keywords: Bartholin abscess; Bartholin cyst; Chlamydia; Emergency department; Gonorrhea; Trichomonas.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / microbiology*
  • Adult
  • Bartholin's Glands*
  • Cysts / microbiology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / microbiology*
  • Triage
  • Vulvar Diseases / microbiology*