Pancreatic abscess

Pancreatic abscess


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

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

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Causes

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

  • Symptoms

    • 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

    • 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.

Related Information

  AbscessPancreatic pseudoc...Sepsis    


Forsmark CE. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 146.


Review Date: 2/10/2014  

Reviewed By: 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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