Treatment of abscesses

Information for day case patients

You have been diagnosed as having an abscess that needs surgical treatment. We have arranged for you to have your operation as a day case.

This means that you will come back first thing in the morning, have your operation and go home on the same day.

Where do I go?

You need to report to the theatre reception Gate 20, level two. You will be asked to go there at 7.30am.

Preparation for day surgery

  • Please make arrangements to leave young children at home with someone. We have no facilities for children.
  • If you are having a general anaesthetic you must arrange for a responsible adult to take you home and stay with you for 24 hours. If you are taking a taxi home you must have a responsible adult to go with you.
  • Even if you are having a local anaesthetic it is recommended that you have someone to take you home. You must not drive if your mobility is restricted by the surgery or if you have had an anaestheic. Your insurance may not cover you immediately after an operation.
  • Please arrive promptly at 7.30am as instructed. Do not eat or drink anything except water from midnight the night before. You may drink water until 6am.
  • If you feel worse overnight or need some advice ring 0117 414 3233 or NHS 111.
  • Before coming in, remove all make-up and nail varnish.

What should I bring?

  • Leave all your valuables and jewellery at home.
  • Bring in any tablets, medicines and inhalers that you normally take.
  • Bring a dressing gown and slippers. We will give you an operating gown to change into for your operation.
  • We suggest you bring a book or something to do while waiting for your surgery. The staff will let you know how long you have to wait. 

Arriving for your operation

  • The staff in the theatre mediroom will take down details of how you will get home. We will phone your escort when you are ready to go home.
  • The nursing staff will get you ready for your operation and answer any questions you may have.
  • The anaesthetist will see you before your operation and explain the anaesthetic. The surgeon will have explained and consented you in SDAU/SAU but if you have any further questions please ask to speak to the surgeon the day.
  • Most patients will be put to sleep i.e. have a general anaesthetic for the procedure, but in some cases the abscess may be treated with a local anaesthetic which means the area will be made numb. The doctor who has assessed you will have told you which is most appropriate.
  • Your operation will be planned to be first on an operating list reserved for patients with an emergency condition. However, if an urgent operation for a more life-threatening condition is needed, your operation may be delayed. If this happens, we will do our best to perform your operation later in the day.

Immediately after your operation

  • You will be taken back to a mediroom where we will treat any pain or sickness that you may experience.
  • You will be offered a drink and a biscuit.
  • Your can dress in the mediroom.
  • You can then sit and wait for your escort to arrive.

Discharge home

We expect that you will go home the same day. If there are complications such as severe pain or sickness, you may have to stay in hospital.

If you do have any problems when you arrive home, contact your GP, district nurse or NHS 111 or for major problems SAU on 0117 414 3233.

Anaesthetic drugs remain in your body for several hours. During this time you will react more slowly and be more likely to have an accident. You may need some days off work and help at home.

We advise that for 24 hours you should not:

  • Drive your car or any other vehicle
  • Cook or operate machinery
  • Drink alcohol or take sleeping tablets
  • Make important decisions or sign legal documents

You will need regular painkillers immediately after the operation. If you do not have suitable painkillers at home, you will be given tablets to take home with you. You will be given verbal and written advice about wound care and pain relief.

You will likely require a dressing on the area, often changed regularly for a few days or weeks. You can arrange for your GP practice nurse or district nurse to do this, please take your discharge summary as soon as possible to your surgery to arrange this. If your GP surgery cannot provide the service most NHS walk-in centres will. In most cases, the abscess will heal and you will not be seen again at the hospital.

If follow-up is planned, for specific complicated abscesses, this will be arranged for you by the hospital team and you will receive a letter in the post for the test or clinic.

How to contact us

Major Trauma Team
Surgical Assessment Unit
Gate 32B, Level 1
Brunel Building
Southmead Hospital
BS10 5NB

Telephone: 0117 414 3233

© North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published July 2022. Review due July 2025. NBT002946

Treatment of abscesses