Abdominal Abscesses: Symptoms And Treatment

Abdominal abscesses usually form as a result of surgery, abdominal injury, or diseases that cause inflammation or swelling. Read more about them in this article.
Abdominal abscesses: symptoms and treatment

Abdominal abscesses are abscesses located in the abdominal cavity. They can be anywhere in the abdominal area. They are mostly formed after surgery or bodily injury, or as a result of diseases that cause inflammation or bloating, especially peritonitis.

What causes abdominal abscesses

Abdominal abscesses can cause abdominal pain

Some of the causes of abdominal abscesses are:

  • Inflammation of organs such as the gallbladder or appendix or perforation of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Severe abdominal injury.
  • Postoperative infection of the abdominal area.


The most common symptoms of abdominal abscesses are general malaise, fever, and abdominal pain. Sometimes, when doing a physical examination, your doctor may feel lumps in your stomach.

Abdominal abscesses may form within one week of gastrointestinal perforation or peritonitis. Postoperative abscesses, on the other hand, may not appear until two or three weeks after surgery, rarely several months later.

Although symptoms vary, most abscesses cause fever and abdominal pain. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Nausea, anorexia, and weight loss are quite common. Other types of abscesses, such as a rectal-uterine abscess, can cause diarrhea. If they are close to the bladder, they can cause a sudden need to urinate. Diaphragmatic abscesses can also cause chest symptoms such as dry cough, chest pain, and dyspnea (shortness of breath). There is usually tenderness at the site of the abscess. Large abscesses can be felt as nodules.

Various abdominal abscesses

Abdominal abscesses are classified into intraperitoneal, retroperitoneal, and visceral. Many abdominal abscesses appear after gastrointestinal perforation or colon cancer.

Some are due to the spread of infection or secondary inflammation as a result of appendicitis, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis, endometritis, or any disease that causes common peritonitis.

Abdominal surgery, especially related to the digestive tract, is one major risk factor. The peritoneum can become inflamed during or after surgery.

Uncleaned abdominal abscesses can damage adjacent organs and blood vessels, which can lead to bleeding or thrombosis. They can also erupt in the intestines or peritoneum and even form a fistula of the skin or genital and urinary organs. The lower abdominal abscess may descend to the thigh.


Physicians typically use computed tomography to make a diagnosis. With this technique, they can choose the best way to clear the abscesses and treat the inflammation.

Magnetic resonance imaging is another very accurate imaging method used in some cases. There are other, simpler tests, such as abdominal ultrasound. However, the quality of the images obtained from it is not as good as in magnetic resonance imaging.


Abdominal abscesses can be cleared by surgery

Treatment includes antibiotics and clearing the abscesses by surgery or through the skin with a catheter. Almost all abdominal abscesses require emptying either by surgery or by catheter.

Imaging methods such as ultrasound can be used to aid in catheter emptying. In severe cases, surgical emptying or surgery may be required. Catheter emptying may be appropriate when the colonies are large and the discharge route does not pass through clean organs. In addition, catheter emptying can be used when the wet is liquid enough to pass through the catheter.

Antibiotics, in turn, prevent the spread of inflammation with the blood and should be prescribed before and after treatment. Treatment often also includes medications that promote the recovery of intestinal bacteria, such as gentamicin and metronidazole.

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