What is the emergency department treatment of pilonidal cyst and sinus?

Updated: May 20, 2019
  • Author: Alex Koyfman, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Patients with pilonidal disease without abscess or other significant symptoms should be discharged from the ED with reassurance and instructions to return if signs of an abscess develop. Patients should maintain adequate hygiene of the area and closely observe for infection. Current literature review by this author failed to note an indication for surgical intervention at this stage. [12] However, if clinical signs of a pilonidal abscess are noted, primary incision and drainage should be performed in the ED for symptomatic relief, as follows: [2, 13, 14]

  • Place the patient in the prone position as comfortably as possible and have him or her undress adequately to expose the region is question. Rarely, a patient may require a small amount of sedative to tolerate the procedure, though reassurance by medical personnel is usually adequate.

  • Using sterile technique and instrumentation, prepare the region for incision with povidone-iodine (Betadine) or other suitable skin cleansing agent. Local anesthetic should be infiltrated generously with a small-gauge needle along the planned incision site (use of local vasoconstrictor such as epinephrine is acceptable).

  • The primary incision is longitudinal and should be made off the midline into skin, subsequently carrying it down to the level of subcutaneous tissue to open up the abscess cavity. As much purulent drainage and debris should be removed from the site as possible; blunt dissection may assist with this process as the patient can tolerate.

  • Once the space is evacuated adequately, ribbon wound packing should be placed to occupy the space and allow further passive drainage. The space should not be packed tightly, and there is no known advantage to using medicated ribbon gauze. Cover dressing can be with 4 X 4 gauze or an ABD pad secured with surgical tape. The patient may require brief amounts of nonopioid analgesia post procedure. [8]

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