Conservative management of infective mastitis and breast abscesses after ultrasonographic assessment

Br J Surg. 1996 Oct;83(10):1413-4. doi: 10.1002/bjs.1800831028.


Current practice in this unit for a suspected breast abscess is preliminary ultrasonographic scan, aspiration of any pus, antibiotic therapy and repeat aspiration in the outpatient clinic if necessary. Inflammatory masses are treated with antibiotics alone. A retrospective review of this strategy has been made. Over a 2-year interval 53 patients were admitted to hospital with a suspected breast abscess. Twenty-two abscesses were aspirated, of which 19 resolved and three required subsequent incision and drainage. Eight patients underwent primary incision and drainage, one of whom required a second drainage procedure. In five patients the abscess discharged spontaneously before intervention. The remaining 18 patients were found on ultrasonography to have inflammation without evidence of focal pus which settled with antibiotic therapy in all but two patients. One of these was found to have an inflammatory cancer and the other developed an abscess, which was drained. Aspiration combined with ultrasonographic imaging is an effective alternative to incision and drainage.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnostic imaging
  • Abscess / drug therapy*
  • Abscess / surgery
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Breast Diseases / surgery
  • Drainage / methods
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Mastitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Mastitis / drug therapy
  • Mastitis / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents