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Trick of the Trade: Minimizing abscess odor

2019-02-19T18:41:49+00:00

  Badsmell
Building on my theme of combating odors in the Emergency Department (see Toxic Sock Syndrome), foul-smelling pus from large abscesses has got to be one of the most nauseating smells in the ED for me.

Trick of the Trade

Use a Yankauer to suction up pus

How can you minimize such odors?

  • Prepare a Yankauer wall suction set up.
  • Start by making only a small initial incision in the abscess, such that you can fit the Yankauer tip in the opening.
  • Suction out as much of the pus into the closed suction canister as possible.
  • Widen the incision and continue suctioning out the pus, as needed.

Basically you are moving the smell from one closed system (the abscess) into another closed system (wall canister).

Abscesssm

SuctionCanistersm

What tricks do you have to minimize odors when performing I+Ds of abscesses?

Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Editor-in-Chief
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD