Perianal abscess in infants: Amenable to conservative treatment in selected cases

Inbal Samuk*, Efrat Avinadav, Uri Barak, Emmanuelle Seguier, Zvika Steiner, Enrique Freud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Perianal abscess is a common surgical condition in daily pediatric practice. Management is a subject of controversy and a variety of approaches are practiced. While the most frequent approach is drainage with/without fistulotomy, the superiority of this approach and the place of conservative approach has not been established. The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of conservative approach in selected cases of perianal abscesses in infants. Methods: Data of 19 patients aged <24 months treated conservatively for perianal abscess at a tertiary hospital in 2014–2018 were retrospectively reviewed. Results: Criteria for a conservative approach were: spontaneous drainage into the anal canal (n = 8) or perianal skin (n = 4), and phlegmonous infiltrate with fluid collection detected on ultrasound (n = 7). Mean age at symptom onset was 8.4 months. Twelve patients were managed for the first time. Previous care in seven patients included 1–4 drainage procedures (n = 4), spontaneous drainage (n = 1) and antibiotics (n = 2). Five patients were on oral antibiotics at presentation. After diagnosis, 18 patients received i.v. antibiotics and one, oral antibiotics. Three patients (15.7%) ultimately required surgical drainage; two were lost to follow up. During follow up (mean, 22.4 months) four patients (28.5%) had a single recurrent episode; abscess in three (managed conservatively in two and surgically in one) and fistula-in-ano in one patient that healed spontaneously. Thus, surgical intervention was prevented in 13/17 patients (76.4%) available for follow up. Conclusions: Perianal abscess in infants is amenable to conservative management in selected cases. Avoiding surgical intervention is advantageous, especially given the high recurrence rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1150
Number of pages5
JournalPediatrics International
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • anorectal disease
  • fistula-in-ano
  • infant
  • perianal abscess
  • recurrence


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