A bowel abscess is a medical condition in which swelling is present in the colon as a result of pus which has collected in that area of the body. Infection is the most common reason an abscess develops. Diverticulitis is a relatively widespread disorder and is the most prevalent source of the infection responsible for the formation and accumulation of the pus in a bowel abscess. Other sources include Crohn's disease, peritonitis and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
Diverticulitis is a disorder of the digestive system and primarily affects the large intestine, also referred to as the colon or bowel. The bowel abscess develops as a result of the diverticulitis. However, diverticulitis itself is a direct result of a different medical condition known as diverticulosis. In diverticulosis, pockets known as diverticula develop within the large intestine. The presence of these pockets can cause pain in the lower left portion of the abdomen, although many people with this condition do not have any symptoms at all.
Infection of the diverticulum leading to a bowel abscess can be due to various complications arising from diverticulosis. Bleeding and tearing are often contributing factors to the development of the abscess. Intestinal obstruction is also a frequent cause of the infected state known as diverticulitis. If diagnosed early enough, dietary changes can sometimes help prevent this type of infection from developing.
Peritonitis, or inflammation of the abdominal membrane, is another potential cause of bowel abscess. Infection or appendicitis are among the most common causes of peritonitis. Physical trauma involving the abdomen also has the potential to cause an injury severe enough for an abscess to form. Pancreatitis, Crohn's disease, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease also increase the risk of developing abscesses.
Abdominal pain accompanied by fever and a general feeling of weakness should be reported to a medical professional right away. If a bowel abscess is present, an early diagnosis can often prevent some of the more serious complications, including sepsis, from arising due to the formation of a bowel abscess. Antibiotics are generally prescribed in an effort to rid the body of infection. Surgical intervention is often necessary to repair the damage caused by the abscess.
Once diagnosed with an abscess, the prognosis will depend upon a variety of factors. Some of these include the underlying medical condition leading to the development of the abscess as well as the patient's overall health and response to the treatment. Many patients report pain relief as well as an increased quality of life after undergoing treatment for this condition.