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Intra-abdominal abscess

  • Alternative Names

    Abscess - intra-abdominal


    Treatment of an intra-abdominal abscess requires antibiotics (given by an IV) and drainage. Drainage involves placing a needle through the skin in the abscess, usually under x-ray guidance. The drain is then left in place for days or weeks until the abscess goes away.

    Occasionally, abscesses cannot be safely drained this way. In such cases, surgery must be done while the patient is under general anesthesia (unconscious and pain-free). A cut is made in the belly area (abdomen), and the abscess is drained and cleaned. A drain is left in the abscess cavity, and remains in place until the infection goes away.

    It is always important to identify and treat the cause of the abscess.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outlook depends on the original cause of the abscess and how bad the infection is. Generally, drainage is successful in treating intra-abdominal abscesses that have not spread.


    Complications include:

    • Return of the abscess
    • Rupture of an abscess
    • Spread of the infection to the bloodstream
    • Widespread infection in the abdomen

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your doctor if you have severe abdominal pain, fevers, nausea, vomiting, or changes in bowel habits.