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Pancreatic abscess

 

A pancreatic abscess is an area filled with pus within the pancreas.

Causes

Pancreatic abscesses develop in people who have pancreatic pseudocysts that become infected.

Symptoms

 

Symptoms include:

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

 

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:

  • 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). 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.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

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

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications may include:

  • Multiple abscesses
  • Sepsis

 

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

Barshak MB. Pancreatic infection. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 78.

Forsmark CE. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 144.

 
  • Digestive system

    Digestive system - illustration

    The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

    Digestive system

    illustration

  • Endocrine glands

    Endocrine glands - illustration

    Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the pace of chemical activity in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).

    Endocrine glands

    illustration

  • Pancreas

    Pancreas - illustration

    The pancreas is an elongated, tapered gland that is located behind the stomach and secretes digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon.

    Pancreas

    illustration

    • Digestive system

      Digestive system - illustration

      The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

      Digestive system

      illustration

    • Endocrine glands

      Endocrine glands - illustration

      Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the pace of chemical activity in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).

      Endocrine glands

      illustration

    • Pancreas

      Pancreas - illustration

      The pancreas is an elongated, tapered gland that is located behind the stomach and secretes digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon.

      Pancreas

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Pancreatic abscess

           

             

            Review Date: 10/27/2015

            Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist with Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. 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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