10 COMMON DISEASES

CAUSES OF 10
COMMON SYMPTOMS

ABSCESS

 
Subject Contents

Abscess

 
Definition
A localized collection of pus in any part of the body that is the result of an infection.
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Alternative Names

 
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Abscesses occur when an area of tissue becomes infected and the body is able to "wall off" the infection and keep it from spreading. White blood cells, the body's defense against some types of infection, migrate through the walls of the blood vessels into the area of the infection and collect within the damaged tissue. During this process "pus" forms which is an accumulation of fluid, living and dead white blood cells, dead ( necrotic ) tissue, and bacteria or other foreign invaders or materials. Abscesses can form in almost every part of the body and may be caused by bacteria, parasites, and foreign materials. Abscesses in the skin are readily visible, red, raised and painful. Abscesses in other areas of the body may not be obvious but if they involve vital organs they may cause significant damage. For information about a specific type of abscess see one of the following topics:
  • amebic liver abscess
  • anorectal abscess
  • Bartholin's abscess
  • brain abscess
  • abscess - tooth
  • epidural abscess
  • peritonsillar abscess
  • pyogenic liver abscess
  • skin abscess
  • spinal cord abscess
  • subcutaneous abscess
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    Symptoms
  • See the individual types of abscesses.
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    Signs and tests
    Often, a sample of fluid will be obtained from the abscess. It will be cultured to determine the organism causing the abscess. See the individual types of abscesses.
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    Treatment
    Treatment varies, but often requires antibiotics. See the individual types of abscesses.
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    Support Groups

     
    Expectations (prognosis)
    Most types are treatable. See the individual types of abscesses.
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    Complications
    See the individual types of abscesses.
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    Calling your health care provider
    Call your health care provider if you think that you may have any type of abscess.
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    Prevention
    Prevention of abscesses is dependent on the location and cause. Good hygiene is important in prevention of skin abscesses. Dental hygiene and routine care will prevent dental abscess . A recent rise in unusual bacterial and fungal abscesses including brain abscesses has occurred with the increased use of illegal intravenous drugs. Hygiene, sterility, and safety are often not concerns at the time the drugs are being used. Avoiding intravenous drug routes will remove this cause of avoidable abscesses.
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    Abscess scan - radioactive

     
    Definition
    A test using white blood cells tagged with radioactive indium and X-rays to find abscesses in the body.
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    Alternative Names
    Radioactive abscess scan; Abscess scan
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    How the test is performed
    Blood is drawn from a vein ( venipuncture ), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic, and a tourniquet (an elastic band) or blood pressure cuff is placed around the upper arm to apply pressure and restrict blood flow through the vein. This causes veins below the tourniquet to distend (fill with blood). A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the tourniquet is removed to restore circulation. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding . The blood sample is then sent to the lab where they isolate the white blood cells ( WBC 's), and tag them with the radioactive substance, indium. The cells are then reinjected through another venipuncture. You will have an appointment to return after 24 to 48 hours for the nuclear medicine scan component of this test in which clustering of WBC's outside the liver, spleen and bone marrow will be identified.
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    How to prepare for the test
    Inform the health care provider if you are pregnant . This procedure is not advised (contraindicated) if you are pregnant. If you are a premenopausal woman, you should use some form of birth control during the course of this procedure. You must wear a hospital gown and remove all jewelry.
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    How the test will feel
    When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing. The nuclear medicine scan is painless. There may be some discomfort lying flat and still on the scanning table for a short period of time.
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    Why the test is performed
    This test is used to identify abscess in the body when a person has signs and symptoms of sepsis , or your health care provider wants to know the cause of surgical complications. White blood cells are the body's means of fighting infection, and this test enables your health care provider to follow these cells and see if they are accumulating around a site of infection. It is expected that there will be groupings of white blood cells in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, but if groupings of cells exist elsewhere, an abscess or other inflammatory process is possible.
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    Normal Values
    Normal findings would show no abnormal accumulations of WBC ’s
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    What abnormal results mean
    Accumulations of WBC '>WBC ’s outside of the normal areas mentioned previously indicate either an abscess or other type of inflammatory process.
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    What the risks are
  • some
  • bruising may occur at the site of injection
  • there is always a slight chance of infection when the skin is broken
  • There is low-radiation exposure. Radioactive injections are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is very low compared with the benefits. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the X-ray .
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    Special considerations
    Inform your health care provider if you have a history of any of the following:
  • gallium (Ga.) scan
  • within the previous month (could interfere with test results)
  • hemodialysis
  • (may cause a false negative)
  • hyperglycemia
  • (may cause a false negative)
  • total parenteral (through an IV) nutrition (may cause a false negative)
  • steroid therapy (may cause a false negative)
  • long-term antibiotic therapy (may cause a false negative)
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