Surgical management of perianal abscess in neonates and infants

Sharman P. Tan Tanny, Naveen Wijekoon, Ramesh M. Nataraja, Amiria Lynch, Maurizio Pacilli

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Background: The optimal management of perianal abscess in neonates and infants remains unclear, including the need for laying open of the fistula and the role of microscopy and culture studies (MCS). We aimed to report the recurrence rate following incision and drainage alone (I&D) compared to incision and drainage with laying open of the fistula (I&DF) and to determine the value of MCS in perianal abscess management. Methods: Following ethical approval (16326Q), a 10-year (2007–2017) review of children younger than 1 year presenting with a perianal abscess was performed. Presence of a fistula was sought in all patients. Data are presented as number of cases (%), median (range) and analysed using Fisher's exact test and Mann–Whitney U-test. P-values of <0.05 were considered significant. Results: We identified 108 patients (107 (99.1%) males) with 111 abscesses (three bilateral); 26 in I&D group and 85 in I&DF group. Initial abscess occurred to the right of midline in 64 cases (58%) and to the left of midline in 47 cases (42%). Twenty-two (20%) recurred after 30 (6–372) days. Sixty-five (59%) had MCS performed. Recurrence was higher in I&D group (9/26) versus I&DF group (13/85) (P = 0.04 (relative risk 2.2, 95% confidence interval 1.0–4.5)). There was no difference in recurrence within each group between patients with or without MCS (I&D group, P = 0.1; I&DF group, P = 0.3). Conclusion: The recurrence of surgically managed perianal abscess is lower when a fistula is identified and laid open at the initial operation. There is little value of MCS in the management of paediatric perianal abscess.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1034-1036
Number of pages3
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • bacteriology
  • perianal abscess
  • perianal fistula

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