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Pancreatic abscess


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.

Review Date: 2/18/2012
Reviewed 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.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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