Breast Abscess

During nursing, an area of redness, tenderness, and induration may develop in the breast. The organism most commonly found in these abscesses is Staphylococcus aureus. In the early stages, the infection can often be treated while nursing is continued from that breast by administering an antibiotic such as dicloxacillin or oxacillin, 250 mg four times daily for 7-10 days. If the lesion progresses to form a localized mass with local and systemic signs of infection, surgical drainage is performed and nursing is discontinued.

A subareolar abscess may develop (rarely) in young or middle-aged women who are not lactating. These infections tend to recur after incision and drainage unless the area is explored during a quiescent interval, with excision of the involved lactiferous duct or ducts at the base of the nipple. Otherwise, infection in the breast is very rare unless the patient is lactating. In the nonlactating breast, inflammatory carcinoma is always considered. Thus, findings suggestive of abscess or cellulitis in the nonlactating breast are an indication for incision and biopsy of any indurated tissue. If the abscess can be percutaneously drained and completely resolves, the patient may be followed up conservatively.

Dener C et al: Breast abscesses in lactating women. World J Surg 2003;27:130. Pubmed: 12616423

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Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 6, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.