A pancreatic abscess is an area filled with pus within the pancreas.
Pancreatic abscesses develop in people who have pancreatic pseudocysts that become infected.
Exams and Tests
Most people with pancreatic abscesses have had pancreatitis. However, the complication often takes 7 or more days to develop.
Signs of an abscess can be seen on:
It may be possible to drain the abscess through the skin (percutaneous). Abscess drainage can be done through an endoscope using endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) in some cases. Surgery to drain the abscess and remove dead tissue is often needed.
How well a person does depends on how severe the infection is. The death rate from undrained pancreatic abscesses is very high.
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.
Draining a pancreatic pseudocyst may help prevent some cases of pancreatic abscess. However, in many cases the disorder is not preventable.
Forsmark CE. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 146.
Todd Eisner, MD, Private practice specializing in Gastroenterology, Boca Raton, FL. Affiliate Assistant Professor, Florida Atlantic University School of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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