A bowel abscess is a potentially serious medical complication that has a variety of possible causes. This type of inflammation is most commonly caused by infection that affects the intestines. A bowel disorder known as diverticulosis can frequently lead to a type of bowel inflammation and infection known as diverticulitis, a well-known cause of the formation of a bowel abscess. Additional medical conditions that might lead to this complication include pelvic inflammatory disease, peritonitis or Crohn's disease. Any individualized questions or concerns about the development of a bowel abscess should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
Diverticulosis is a medical condition in which multiple pouches develop along the walls of the intestines. If these pouches become inflamed, a condition called diverticulitis might develop, often causing infection and a buildup of pus that forms the bowel abscess. Dietary changes and prescription antibiotics are frequently all that is needed to treat the infection, although surgical intervention is sometimes required.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an inflammation involving the female reproductive organs, often as a result of a sexually transmitted infection or disease. This infection can sometimes spread to the intestines, leading to the development of a bowel abscess. Peritonitis involves the inflammation of the thin membrane that lines the walls of the abdomen, and a bowel abscess is one of the possible complications of this condition. These conditions are often treated with antibiotics, although additional medications or surgery might be indicated in some severe cases.
Bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease also are among the possible causes of a bowel abscess. Ulcerative colitis can cause intermittent bouts of constipation and diarrhea, abdominal pain and open sores inside the intestines. Crohn's disease causes symptoms that are similar to those of ulcerative colitis, although the symptoms are often more severe among people who have Crohn's disease. Both conditions normally are treated with medications, dietary changes and lifestyle modifications, although surgical intervention might become necessary sometimes.
Appendicitis or pancreatitis might sometimes lead to the development of a bowel abscess. These organs might leak or rupture because of extreme inflammation caused by infection. The pus and other infectious materials might then leak out and spread to other organs of the body. Emergency surgery is necessary in these cases because after the infection invades multiple organs or the bloodstream, life-threatening complications might develop. Any sudden abdominal pain, especially if accompanied by fever, nausea or vomiting, should be reported to a doctor right away for further medical evaluation.