What is a Bartholin abscess?

Updated: Jan 08, 2019
  • Author: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Christine Isaacs, MD  more...
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Bartholin abscesses and cysts account for 2% of all gynecological visits per year. [1] The Bartholin glands are a pair of pea-sized, vulvovaginal, mucous-secreting vestibular glands that are located in the labia minora in the 4- and 8-o'clock positions, beneath the bulbospongiosus muscle. A Bartholin cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops in one of the Bartholin glands or ducts when the duct that drains the fluid from the gland becomes blocked and causes the duct and gland to swell. [2] A Bartholin gland abscess develops either when a Bartholin cyst becomes infected or when the Bartholin gland itself becomes infected. [3] For more information on disorders of the Bartholin gland, please see Medscape Reference articles Bartholin Gland Diseases and Benign Vulvar Lesions.

Although empiric antibiotic therapy is not indicated in the immunocompetent patient who presents with Bartholin gland abscess without cellulitis, it is helpful to know that a substantial proportion of patients with Bartholin gland abscess are culture positive, with Escherichia coli being the single most common pathogen. [4]

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