Bartholin's abscess

Last reviewed 02/2023

This is a common benign lesion of the vulva representing a dilatation of the duct of Bartholin's gland. It typically presents as a unilateral swelling on the posterolateral aspect of the introitus. Usually, the cyst is about 2 cm in diameter but may reach up to 8 cm. It contains sterile mucus and is asymptomatic.

Secondary infection of the cyst produces a Bartholin's abscess. The organisms usually cultured are staphylococci, streptococci, E. coli and on occasion, gonococci. The abscess is often tender. Treatment options include marsupialisation of the gland to create a fistulous tract between the wall of the duct and the skin.

Recurrent infection in the older woman should raise the rare possibility of carcinoma.