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Breast abscess

J Michael Dixon, MD
Section Editors
Anees B Chagpar, MD, MSc, MA, MPH, MBA, FACS, FRCS(C)
Daniel J Sexton, MD
Deputy Editors
Kathryn A Collins, MD, PhD, FACS
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


A breast abscess is a localized collection of pus in the breast tissue.


Breast abscesses develop as a complication of mastitis (figure 1) [1]. In a review of 89 patients with breast abscesses requiring surgical intervention, 14 percent were lactational and 86 percent were nonlactational [2]. Breast abscesses were more common in African Americans, obese patients and smokers than in the general population.

Lactational abscess — Risk factors for lactational breast abscess formation include maternal age over 30 years of age, first pregnancies, gestational age ≥41 weeks gestation, and mastitis [3,4]. It is relatively uncommon for lactating women to develop a breast abscess as a complication of mastitis [3,5]. (See "Lactational mastitis".)

Nonlactational abscesses — Nonlactational abscesses can be classified as central, peripheral or skin associated. Patients with nonlactational abscesses, diabetics and smokers are likely to develop recurrent infections [6].

Central (periareolar) nonlactational abscesses are usually due to periductal mastitis. (See "Mastitis and other skin disorders of the breast in adults".)


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Literature review current through: Oct 2015. | This topic last updated: Aug 5, 2013.
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