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localized inflamation associated with tissue necrosis. Abscesses are characterized by inflamation, which is due to the accumulation of pus in the local tissues, and often painful swelling. They occur in the skin, at the root of a tooth, in the middle ear, on the eyelid (see stysty,
in medicine, acute localized infection of one or more of the glands of the eyelid, with pain, swelling, and redness of the lid margin, usually caused by a staphylococcus infection. An external sty usually releases its pus and disappears in a day or so.
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), in the mammary glands, in the recto-anal area, and elsewhere in the body. Abscesses may develop in lung tissue, in the lymph nodes, and in bone. A sinus abscess may result in a fistulafistula
, abnormal, usually ulcerous channellike formation between two internal organs or between an internal organ and the skin. It may follow a surgical procedure with improper healing, or it may be caused by injury, abscess, or infection with penetration deep enough to reach
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, and abscess of the appendix in appendicitis. Unless an abscess discharges spontaneously, surgical incision and drainage is required. See boilboil
or furuncle
, tender, painful inflammatory nodule in the skin, which becomes pustular but with a hard center (see abscess). It may be caused by any of various microbes, the most usual being Staphylococcus aureus.
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; carbunclecarbuncle,
acute inflammatory nodule of the skin caused by bacterial invasion into the hair follicles or sebaceous gland ducts. It is actually a boil, but one that has more than one focus of infection, i.e., involves several follicles or ducts.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a localized purulent inflammation of tissues, involving their dissolution and the formation of a pus-containing cavity.

Abscesses may develop in the subcutaneous cellular tissue, in muscles, bones, and so forth, as well as in organs (such as the liver, lungs, spleen, and brain) or between them (interintestinal abscesses, subphrenic abscesses, and so on). Abscesses may appear either independently or as a complication in other diseases—for instance, pneumonia, trauma, etc. They develop as a result of the penetration of pyogenic microbes into the organism through lesions of the skin or the mucous membranes or as a result of importation of pathogenic agents from other purulent foci through the blood and lymph vessels. The microbes that have entered the tissues cause inflammation and subsequent necrosis of a section of tissue or organ. The abscess is surrounded by a zone of inflammation. The organism’s defense reaction is manifested in the formation of a capsule separating the abscess from healthy tissue. The volume of pus in the cavity of an abscess may reach several liters.

The manifestations of abscesses depend on their location, depth, and stage of development. Abscesses located close to the skin or to a mucous membrane cause their reddening, an increase in local and overall temperature, swelling, and fluctuation—a sensation of impulse transmission through a liquid from one wall to the other. When an abscess is deep, the function of the organ in which it is embedded is disturbed, body temperature rises, and pain sets in. The number of leukocytes in the blood and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) increase. If the capsule becomes thin, the abscess will open up by itself through the skin or into the bronchial or intestinal lumen, etc. Serious complications develop when abscesses break open into the pleural or abdominal cavity. Abscesses are treated by surgery.


Rufanov, I. G. Obshchaia khirurgiia, 6th ed. Moscow, 1957. Page 311.
Davydovskii, I. V. Obshchaia patologiia cheloveka. Moscow, 1961.


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


A localized collection of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a localized collection of pus formed as the product of inflammation and usually caused by bacteria
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Resolution of the splenic abscess with antibiotics alone has been reported in the literature.
Splenic abscess. World J Surg 1990 Jul-Aug;14(4):513-516, discussion 516-517.
Causative pathogens were identified in 11 patients (68.7%) with splenic abscess and sterile in the other 5 patients.
While treating an HIV patient the clinician requires high alert in patients presenting with pain abdomen as the splenic abscess is one of the differentials and it is recommended that initial ultrasound must be carried out to diagnose this condition (13).
Ghaffari, "Aseptic splenic abscess as precursory extraintestinal manifestation of inflammatory bowel disease," Case Reports in Medicine, vol.
Two cases of splenic abscess presented clinically with abdominal pain in the left upper quadrant, fever and abdominal discomfort.
Demographic, pathologic, radiologic and treatment records of each cancer patient with splenic abscess were retrieved from the electronic database.
On abdominal ultrasonography, a structure with dimensions of 64x59 mm compatible with abcess with a dense content was observed in the spleen and free fluid was observed in the abdomen; cefazolin, amikacin and ornidazole treatment was started with a prediagnosis of splenic abscess, but a probable hemorrhage could not be excluded, since she was being followed up with a diagnosis of bleeding disorder.
TABLE Lemierre's syndrome: Potential complications (3) Category Complication Cardiovascular Endocarditis, pericarditis, carotid artery rupture, cardiac tamponade Intra-abdominal Liver abscess, splenic abscess, peritonitis Musculoskeletal Septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, arthralgia Neurologic Purulent meningitis, cerebral abscess, sigmoid sinus thrombosis, cavernous sinus thrombosis Pulmonary Abscess, adult respiratory distress syndrome, pleural effusion, cavitation, pneumothorax, pulmonary embolism, empyema Renal Abscess, glomerulonephritis, acute renal failure, hemolytic uremic syndrome Skin Abscess
Those complications are multiple and widespread; they include abdominal wall abscess [14], broncholithiasis [15-19], lung abscess, empyema [20], erosion to the back [2123], subdiaphragmatic abscess [24], liver abscess [25], splenic abscess, retroperitoneal abscess [26], peritonitis [27], granulomatous peritonitis, intestinal obstruction [28], thrombosis, colocutaneous fistula [29], malignancy, dyspareunia, and infertility [30, 31], bladder obstruction, incarcerated hernia [32], cellulitis [2], and septicemia [33].
The contraindications of PSE include secondary splenomegaly and hypersplenism with the original disease in terminal stage; pyemia; or other severe infections which implies high risk of splenic abscess after the procedure.