Ultrasound (US) is used to differentiate abscess from cellulitis. At our institution, we observed children who had purulent fluid obtained after a negative abscess US. We sought to determine the incidence of sonographically occult abscess (SOA) of the buttock and perineum, and identify associated clinical and demographic characteristics.Methods
Retrospective chart review including children younger than 18 years old presenting to pediatric emergency department with soft tissue infection of the buttock or perineum and diagnostic radiology US read as negative for abscess. We defined SOA as wound culture growing pathogenic organism obtained within 48 hours of the US. Clinical and demographic characteristics included age, sex, race, ethnicity, fever, history of spontaneous drainage, duration of symptoms, previous methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, or previous abscess. We used univariate and multivariate logistic regression to assess correlation between these characteristics and SOA.Results
A total of 217 children were included. Sixty-one (28%) children had SOA; 33 of 61 (54%) had incision and drainage within 4 hours of the US. Of children with SOA, 49 (80%) grew MRSA and 12 (20%) grew methicillin-sensitive S. aureus. In univariate analysis, a history of MRSA, symptom duration 4 days or less, age of younger than 4 years, and Hispanic ethnicity increased the odds of having SOA. In multivariate analysis, history of MRSA and duration of 4 days or less were associated with SOA.Conclusions
Twenty-eight percent of children in our institution with US of the buttock and perineum negative for abscess had clinical abscess within 48 hours, most within 4 hours. History of MRSA and shorter symptom duration increased the odds of SOA.