Reference Index - Disease & Conditions

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Digestive system
Digestive system


Endocrine glands
Endocrine glands


Pancreas
Pancreas


Pancreatic abscess

Definition:

A pancreatic abscess is a cavity of pus within the pancreas.



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Pancreatic abscesses develop in patients with pancreatic pseudocysts that become infected.



Signs and tests:

Patients with pancreatic abscesses usually have had pancreatitis . However, the complication often takes 7 or more days to develop.

Symptoms usually include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever

Signs of an abscess can be seen on:



Treatment:

It may be possible to drain the abscess through the skin (percutaneous). Surgery to drain the abscess and remove dead tissue is often needed.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

How the person does depends on how severe the infection is. The death rate from undrained pancreatic abscesses is very high.



Complications:

Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you have persistent abdominal pain with fever or other signs of a pancreatic abscess, particularly if you have recently had a pancreatic pseudocyst or pancreatitis.



Prevention:

Adequate drainage of a pancreatic pseudocyst may help prevent some cases of pancreatic abscess. However, in many cases the disorder is not preventable.



References: Owyang C. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 147.


Review Date: 1/20/2010
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, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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