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Pancreatic abscess

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

Causes

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

Symptoms

Exams and Tests

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

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.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

Prevention

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

References

Forsmark CE. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 146.

Update Date: 2/18/2012

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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