Coordinated Health

Conditions

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.

Symptoms

  • Abdominal mass
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Inability to eat
  • Nausea and vomiting

Signs 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:

  • CT scan
    of the abdomen
  • MRI of the abdomen
  • Ultrasound
    of the abdomen

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.

Expectations (prognosis)

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

Complications

  • Multiple abscesses
  • Sepsis

Calling your health care provider

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.

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