How Do I Treat a Pancreatic Abscess?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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Treatment of a pancreatic abscess involves draining the pus-filled sac via a needle or through laparoscopic surgery. A pancreatic abscess might also be drained into the stomach or small intestine using endoscopic surgery, where a tiny camera, tube, and light are threaded into the stomach. If a pancreatic abscess is not drained, it could lead to life-threatening complications.

A pancreatic abscess could develop after an episode of acute pancreatitis or trauma to the stomach area. If a pseudocyst containing pancreatic enzymes, blood, or tissue develops in the abdomen and becomes infected, a pancreatic abscess might form. Peptic ulcers might also lead to an abscess, along with gallstones.

Symptoms of a pancreatic abscess include abdominal pain that might develop a week or more after a bout of pancreatitis. Vomiting, nausea, and the inability to eat might also indicate a pancreatic abscess. Some patients report fever and chills as symptoms of infection.

The prognosis associated with an abscess in the pancreas is considered good, with drainage. If left untreated, the abscess could spread and cause sepsis, a bacterial infection that might lead to shock. Sepsis represents a serious illness that usually requires hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics, and oxygen to prevent internal organs from shutting down.


Enzymes in the pancreas digest food when it reaches the small intestine. This small organ behind the stomach also produces hormones. When the pancreas become inflamed by excessive alcohol use, injury, high levels of fat in the blood, or a blocked duct, an attack of pancreatitis might occur. Some medications and disorders might also spark an episode of acute pancreatitis.

Alcoholism represents the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis, which typically gets worse over time. It could lead to permanent damage and the inability to digest food, especially fat. Chronic pancreatitis occurs more often in men who abuse alcohol over a long period.

Symptoms of pancreatitis are similar to indications of pancreatic abscess, with pain the most notable sign. During an attack, the pain might radiate to the back and might be worse after eating or drinking, especially if high-fat foods are consumed. The pain might get worse over a few days and appear more intense when lying down. Other symptoms include hiccups, mild jaundice, abdominal bloating, and gray stools.

Acute necrotizing pancreatitis (ANP) might also lead to an abscess. This condition describes an inflammation that leads to cell death. ANP might resolve on its own, create a pseudocyst, or create an abscess in the fibrous walls. An abscess might develop a month or more after a bout of ANP.


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