An intra-abdominal abscess is a pocket of pus or infected fluid inside the abdomen.
An abscess forms in response to an infection. White blood cells rush to infected areas to destroy the germs causing the infection. Dead germ cells, damaged white blood cells and damaged tissue collect, creating pus. The pus will continue to collect and create a pocket in the tissue as long as the infection is present.
Factors that may increase the risk of intra-abdominal abscess may include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
An infection may be suspected based on your symptoms. Some abscesses can be felt on examination. Blood tests may be done to look for signs of infection or signs of your body’s response to an infection.
Images of internal structures may be taken to locate and assess an abscess. This may be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. The goal of treatment is to remove the fluid and pus from the abscess and treat the infection.
Most abscesses will need to be drained. They may be done by:
Antibiotics may also be given to prevent the spread of the infection.
Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can make it hard to get proper hydration or nutrition. IV fluids or nutritional support may be provided until symptoms pass.
American College of Surgeons
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Intra-abdominal abscess. University of Rochester Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=134&ContentID=145. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Intra-abdominal abscesses. Merck Manual Professional Manual website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/acute-abdomen-and-surgical-gastroenterology/intra-abdominal-abscesses. Updated January 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Intra-abdominal sepsis and abscesses. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/doctor/intra-abdominal-sepsis-and-abscesses. Updated March 11, 2016. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Schein M. Management of intra-abdominal abscesses. In: Holzheimer RG, Mannick JA, editors. Surgical treatment: Evidence-based and problem-oriented. Munich: Zuckschwerdt; 2001. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6937. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.