St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Intra-abdominal abscess

    Abscess - intra-abdominal

    An intra-abdominal abscess is a pocket of infected fluid and pus located inside the belly (abdominal cavity). There may be more than one abscess.

    Causes

    An intra-abdominal abscess can be caused by a ruptured appendix, ruptured intestinal diverticulum, inflammatory bowel disease, parasite infection in the intestines (Entamoeba histolytica), or other condition.

    Risk factors include a history of appendicitis, diverticulitis, perforated ulcer disease, or any surgery that may have infected the abdominal cavity.

    Symptoms

    Depending on the location, symptoms may include:

    • Abdominal pain and distention
    • Chills
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Lack of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Rectal tenderness and fullness
    • Vomiting
    • Weakness

    Exams and Tests

    A complete blood count may show a higher than normal white blood count. A comprehensive metabolic panel may show liver, kidney, or blood chemistry problems.

    A CT scan of the abdomen will usually reveal an intra-abdominal abscess. After the CT scan is done, a needle may be placed through the skin into the abscess cavity to confirm the diagnosis and treat the abscess.

    Other tests may include:

    • Abdominal x-ray
    • Ultrasound of the abdomen

    Sometimes surgery called a laparotomy may be needed to diagnose this condition.

    Treatment

    Treatment of an intra-abdominal abscess requires antibiotics (given by an IV) and drainage. Drainage involves placing a needle through the skin in the abscess, usually under x-ray guidance. The drain is then left in place for days or weeks until the abscess goes away.

    Occasionally, abscesses cannot be safely drained this way. In such cases, surgery must be done while the patient is under general anesthesia (unconscious and pain-free). A cut is made in the belly area (abdomen), and the abscess is drained and cleaned. A drain is left in the abscess cavity, and remains in place until the infection goes away.

    It is always important to identify and treat the cause of the abscess.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    The outlook depends on the original cause of the abscess and how bad the infection is. Generally, drainage is successful in treating intra-abdominal abscesses that have not spread.

    Possible Complications

    Complications include:

    • Return of the abscess
    • Rupture of an abscess
    • Spread of the infection to the bloodstream
    • Widespread infection in the abdomen

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your doctor if you have severe abdominal pain, fevers, nausea, vomiting, or changes in bowel habits.

    References

    Minei JP, Champine JG. Abdominal abscesses and gastrointestinal fistulas. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 26.

    Prather C. Inflammatory and anatomic diseases of the intestine, peritoneum, mesentery, and omentum. In Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 144.

    BACK TO TOP

    • Intra-abdominal abscess,...

      illustration

    • Meckels diverticulum

      illustration

      • Intra-abdominal abscess,...

        illustration

      • Meckels diverticulum

        illustration

      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Intra-abdominal abscess

            Review Date: 8/10/2012

            Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


            Back  |  Top
            About Us
            Contact Us
            History
            Mission
            Locations & Directions
            Quality Reports
            Annual Reports
            Honors & Awards
            Community Health Needs
            Assessment

            Newsroom
            Services
            Brain & Spine
            Cancer
            Heart
            Maternity
            Orthopedics
            Pulmonary
            Sleep Medicine
            Urgent Care
            Women's Services
            All Services
            Patients & Visitors
            Locations & Directions
            Find a Physician
            Tour St. Luke's
            Patient & Visitor Information
            Contact Us
            Payment Options
            Financial Assistance
            Send a Card
            Mammogram Appointments
            Health Tools
            My Personal Health
            mystlukes
            Spirit of Women
            Health Information & Tools
            Clinical Trials
            Health Risk Assessments
            Employer Programs -
            Passport to Wellness

            Classes & Events
            Classes & Events
            Spirit of Women
            Donate & Volunteer
            Giving Opportunities
            Volunteer
            Physicians & Employees
            For Physicians
            Remote Access
            Medical Residency Information
            Pharmacy Residency Information
            Physician CPOE Training
            Careers
            Careers
            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
            Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile