Abdominal abscesses can be life threatening without prompt medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in preventing serious complications.
An abdominal abscess is a collection of pus that forms in the abdomen. Left untreated, it can lead to life threatening complications.
This article overviews the types, locations, symptoms, and treatment options for abdominal abscesses.
The condition can also be fatal.
Types of abdominal abscesses
- Intra-abdominal abscesses: These develop within the abdomen. Doctors can further classify them as visceral abscesses or nonvisceral abscesses. Visceral abscesses develop in a visceral organ, such as the liver, spleen, or pancreas. Nonvisceral abscesses develop in the space between two organs, such as the subphrenic space or the pelvis.
- Postoperative abscesses: These form after surgery. Several factors can cause them, including infection of a surgical incision, fluid leakage from a hollow organ, or retained foreign materia.
- Spontaneous abscesses: These develop without any obvious cause. They are more common in people with underlying medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease.
Abdominal abscesses can appear in various parts of the body. Some examples of abscesses found in different areas include:
- Pelvic abscesses: These form in the pelvis.
- Retroperitoneal abscesses: These develop behind the peritoneum, the moist tissue membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and covers the abdominal organs.
- Subphrenic abscesses: These form in the space between the diaphragm and the liver.
- Peritoneal abscesses: These develop within the
peritoneal cavity, or space, that contains the intestines, the stomach, and the liver.
The symptoms of an abdominal abscess vary depending on its location. However, some general symptoms that may be present
- abdominal pain, which may be nonspecific or localized
- tachycardia, a fast resting heart rate
- tachypnea, rapid breathing
- oliguria, or decreased urine output
- prolonged ileus, an intestinal obstruction
- respiratory alkalosis, which is an unusually high blood pH
A subphrenic abscess may cause:
A pelvic abscess may
- vaginal bleeding
- high grade fever
- leukocytosis, a high white blood cell count
- palpable pelvic mass
- lower abdominal pain
Treatment for an abdominal abscess depends on its size and location. However, the
There are two main ways to drain an abdominal abscess:
- Percutaneous drainage: This is a minimally invasive procedure in which a surgeon inserts a needle into the abscess under imaging guidance and drains the pus. Percutaneous CT-guided drainage is generally the
optimal treatmentfor abdominal abscesses.
- Surgical drainage: This is a more invasive procedure that involves opening and draining the abscess.
The outlook for people with abdominal abscesses depends on many factors, including the size and location of the abscess, the person’s age and overall health, and how quickly they receive treatment.
The outlook is generally
An abdominal abscess is a serious condition that can be life threatening. It is usually the result of an infection in the abdominal cavity, such as appendicitis or diverticulitis.
Initial treatment for an abdominal abscess involves a combination of antibiotics and drainage. Percutaneous drainage is often the first line of treatment for an intra-abdominal abscess.