Twenty-four studies (n=unclear) met inclusion criteria for the review: five RCTs; two cohort studies; and 17 case series.
Silver nitrate: Healing was usually accomplished within 10 days (two RCTs and four case series, n=143 patients). No abscess or duct cysts recurrence was observed in four case series, but two reported frequency of recurrence of gland pathology as 4% within two months of treatment. Compared with alcohol sclerotherapy, silver nitrate demonstrated slower healing (n=12 patients).
Carbon dioxide laser treatment: One retrospective cohort study reported an average healing time of 2.2 weeks; six case series reported healing time of three weeks to three months. Frequency of recurrence ranged from 2% to 20% (n=451 patients).
Marsupialisation: Treatment demonstrated a healing time of less than two weeks (one RCT). No recurrence was observed in any studies with marsupialisation. However, when compared with patients treated by incision and drainage before primary closure, patients with marsupialisation healed significantly more slowly (one to 21 days versus three to 11 days, p<0.05). There was no significant difference in abscess recurrence.
Needle aspiration: Healing occurred within one week (one study). Recurrence ranged from 0 to 38% at six months (n=96 patients). Compared with alcohol sclerotherapy, needle aspiration was associated with more than twice the frequency of recurrence. All patients who received alcohol sclerotherapy had their abscesses healed within one week. Recurrence rate was 8% to 10% at seven months (two studies).
Fistulisation: Treatment took three weeks for healing to occur (one RCT) and recurrence occurred in 4% to 17% of patients at six months (n=111 patients).
Gland excision: Frequency of recurrence was 0 to 3% (n=168 patients). Adverse events were uncommon in all interventions and when they occurred were not life threatening.