Merck Manual

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Pilonidal Disease


Parswa Ansari

, MD, Hofstra Northwell-Lenox Hill Hospital, New York

Reviewed/Revised Jan 2023
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Pilonidal disease refers to an acute abscess or chronic draining sinus in the sacrococcygeal area.

Pilonidal disease usually occurs in young, hirsute, White males but can also occur in women.

One or several midline or adjacent-to-the-midline pits or sinuses occur in the skin of the sacral region and may form a cavity, often containing hair. The lesion is usually asymptomatic; infected lesions are painful.

Treatment of Pilonidal Disease

  • For abscesses, incision and drainage

  • For sinuses, extirpation and closure

(See also the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons’ 2019 clinical practice guidelines for the management of pilonidal disease.)

Treatment of an acute abscess is by incision and drainage.

Usually, one or more chronic draining sinuses persist and must be extirpated by excision and primary closure or by an open technique (eg, cystotomy, marsupialization). Minimally invasive techniques that use endoscopic or video assistance have also been used with some success but require specialized equipment and expertise. Antibiotics are typically not needed.

Larger cysts may require a rotation flap to close the defect.

More Information

The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

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