Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


empyema (ĕmpē-ēˈmə), persistent purulent discharge into a cavity such as the pleural space or the gallbladder. Empyema results as a complication of bacterial infections such as pneumonia and lung abscess. It is now relatively rare because of the widespread availability of therapy for the infections that precipitate the disease.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the accumulation of pus in a closed body cavity or in a hollow organ if the outlet for the pus is blocked by a concrement or inflammatory infiltrate. Empyema may develop after purulent inflammation of the walls of a cavity or organ caused by shifting of the inflammatory process from the nearest organ, for example, from bone to the walls of a joint cavity in osteomyelitis. It also occurs after direct penetration of the infection into a cavity upon injury to its wall, for example, after rupture of a pulmonary abscess into the pleural cavity. The symptoms of empyema vary depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic and on the site of the infection. They may include a high fever, intoxication, pain, and change in the blood composition.

Treatment may require removal of the affected organ, for example, in suppurative appendicitis and suppurative cholecystitis. In some cases the purulent cavity is opened, pus is removed and the cavity is drained, for example, in suppurative pleurisy (thoracic empyema) or suppurative arthritis.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The presence of pus in the body cavity, hollow organ, or tissue space; when the term is used without qualification, it generally refers to pus in the pleural space.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The empyema may rapidly increase in size and eventually lead to brain herniation.
Owing to her empyema and pneumonia, dual antibiotic treatment was commenced including ceftriaxone 100 mg/kg/day as 2 dose intravenous application and vancomycin 40 mg/kg/day as 4 isodose by intravenous infusion.
It should be considered in cases of empyema gall bladder provided expertise and gadgets are available.
Purulent material from the guttural pouch defines some degree of guttural pouch empyema. Guttural pouch empyema can be a primary infection, or secondary to ruptured lymph nodes into the pouch (possibly secondary to Streptococcus equi).
Complications were categorized as insertional (for example, lung or other organ laceration or perforation, hemorrhage), positional (for example, extrathoracic placement, persistent hemothoraces, or pneumothoraces), or infective (for example, minor wound infection and empyema thoracic).
[1,34,35] Drainage is the mainstay of initial treatment of complex parapneumonic effusions and empyema. Classically, this has been performed using a large-bore surgical chest drain, however as with other pathology, small-bore Seldinger drains have dramatically increased in use due to their ease of insertion and patient comfort.
Empyema was suspected, and the patient was treated accordingly, with chest tube drainage and intravenous broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Suriet, "Image-guided percutaneous drainage of thoracic empyema," European Radiology, vol.
Benson, "Necrotising pneumonia and empyema due to Clostridium perfringens complicating pulmonary embolus," Thorax, vol.