Pilonidal cysts or abscess are located over the tailbone where the buttocks meet on the lower back. The cause is believed to be ingrown hair(s) and/or a congenital pilonidal dimple. Pilonidal is Latin for nest of hair. Excessive sitting or pressure on the area is thought to be a predisposing factor. They cause pain and tenderness over the area with itching and opaque yellow (purulent) or bloody drainage. It was first described by the Mayo brothers in 1833. The disease affects 70,000 people in the United States each year, most of them young men between 15 and 35 years of age. It is 7 times more common in dark skinned individuals, though every patient I have ever treated for pilonidal disease was white. It has historically been associated with the military and even earned the nickname “Jeep-rider’s disease” in World War II as it was thought to be due to prolonged jeep rides in bumpy vehicles irritating the tailbone area.
A 2013 study of 151 military personnel afflicted with pilonidal disease revealed that the recurrence rate of the disease is related to the type of surgery used to treat it.
|#||Type of Surgery||Complication Rate|
|45||excision and suture closure||62%|
|22||excision and suturing wound edges down||27%|
|69||excision and left open to heal||24.6%|
|15||incision and drainage||20%|
A 2008 study of over 1000 Israeli soldiers had a recurrence rate of only 16% using the trephine technique and 9 year follow up. Almost 90% were healed at 4 weeks after surgery vs. the months required for healing if left open to heal or the edges are sutured down. Other advantages of the trephine technique are less pain after surgery and a return to work. The best options are therefore excision and flap closure or the trephine technique.