The purpose of this procedure is to drain the pus and relieve the pressure and pain that results from an abscess in the pad of the fingertip, called a felon. Although commonly performed on an outpatient basis, severe infections may require hospitalization and antibiotics.
The patient is positioned, and the hand is cleansed and sanitized. Local anesthesia may be administered based on physician preference depending on the degree of swelling. In severe cases, general anesthesia may be used so that the patient is asleep during the procedure.
Draining the Felon
The surgeon makes an incision to access and expose the infected area. The location of the incision depends on the size, location and severity of the felon. The incision is commonly made either on the underside of the finger over the point of maximum swelling or on the side of the finger. The infected chambers are opened, the pus is drained, dead skin or tissue is removed, and the wound is irrigated.
End of Procedure
The wound may be held open with a small rubber drain or packed loosely with gauze, and a loose bandage is applied.
The patient is usually required to soak the finger two to three times a day in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, saline or soapy water until the wound is healed. Most patients completely heal within 3 to 4 weeks. In some cases, hand therapy may then be required because of scar sensitivity.