Thirty-seven years ago, it was suggested that abscesses could be treated with primary closure rather than by conventional incision and drainage, and that subsequent healing was superior. The result of a survey into the practice and teaching of abscess management in accident and emergency departments shows that, despite apparent satisfaction with the technique, it has not gained widespread acceptance. The literature on the subject is reviewed, and from this review it would appear that there cannot be any justification for the traditional method of packing abscess cavities. Areas for further research are identified.
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