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Management of Breast Abscesses in Jamaican Women Is There Need for a Paradigm Shift?



A paradigm shift from operative to non-operative management of breast abscesses has occurred in surgical centres worldwide. The recent experience in managing these patients at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) was examined. Data were obtained retrospectively from dockets retrieved from the UHWI medical records department, and were analysed using the SPSS version 11.0 software package for Windows. Seventy-seven patients with breast abscesses presented during the 66-month study period, but complete data were unavailable for seventeen cases. The mean age of the remaining sixty patients was 32 years. There was one male patient. There were no cases of bilateral disease, and the majority was right-sided. Mean white blood cell count at presentation was mildly elevated at 11.9 x 109/L, and had no relationship to method of management or length of stay. There were two cases treated with aspiration and antibiotics only. All other cases were treated with incision and drainage. Culture results were available in forty-four cases, and in 80%, Staphylococcus aureus was identified, with one case of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The mean delay to the operating theatre was one day after presentation and the mean length of stay was 4.5 days. Seventeen patients had a ‘non-cosmetic’ incision. The traditional management of breast abscess provides challenges in terms of delay to the operating theatre and prolonged hospital stays. There is increased expense, as well as loss of productive work hours, associated with this line of treatment. Non-operative management has not traditionally been undertaken in our institution, but it is documented elsewhere to be safe, practical, and results in improved cosmetic outcomes. Prospective protocol-based trials are necessary to identify the patients most suitable for this line of management in a setting with limited resources.

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e-Published: 21 Aug, 2013
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