What is Retroperitoneal Abscess & How is it Treated?

What is Retroperitoneal Abscess?

Retroperitoneal Abscess is a pathological condition in which there is a break in the tissue lining behind the abdominal cavity as a result of a bacterial infection which in turns creates a hollow space in which pus is filled. Appendicitis which is an infection of the appendix is the believed to be the root cause for Retroperitoneal Abscess, although pancreatitis can also cause Retroperitoneal Abscess. In some cases, unhygienic practices like using a dirty needle during acupuncture may result in bacteria infiltrating the abdominal cavity resulting in Retroperitoneal Abscess.

The symptoms of Retroperitoneal Abscess are similar to many other abdominal conditions and hence it is quite a difficult condition to diagnose. The front line treatment for Retroperitoneal Abscess is antibiotic treatment which eliminates the bacteria causing the condition and thus cures Retroperitoneal Abscess. If the condition is left untreated, Retroperitoneal Abscess can even become life threatening in some cases.

What is Retroperitoneal Abscess

What Causes Retroperitoneal Abscess?

As stated, Retroperitoneal Abscess is mainly caused by a bacterial infection. The question is how the bacteria enter the abdominal cavity. Normally, it is an infection within the vicinity of the abdominal cavity which may result in Retroperitoneal Abscess. Citing an example if there is an infection of the appendix which is in close proximity to the abdominal cavity then it may result in Retroperitoneal Abscess.

Similarly, an infection of the pancreas which is also in close proximity to the abdominal cavity may cause Retroperitoneal Abscess. Certain acupuncturists use dirty or unhygienic needles when they perform this therapy. This may allow the bacteria from the tip of the needle to enter the abdominal cavity and cause Retroperitoneal Abscess.

What are the Symptoms of Retroperitoneal Abscess?

An individual suffering from Retroperitoneal Abscess will first complain of general body discomfort and fatigue. It may sometimes be accompanied by fever and low back pain as well. Appetite loss is yet another symptom for Retroperitoneal Abscess, which may in turn cause unintentional weight loss. The low back pain due to Retroperitoneal Abscess tends to get worse by any sort of movement of the lower extremities or the hip.

Since the symptoms are quite common to many other conditions hence the chances of the diagnosis getting missed is quite high until the condition reaches in its advanced stage, which may become quite serious for the individual suffering from Retroperitoneal Abscess.

How is Retroperitoneal Abscess Diagnosed?

To begin with, the health practitioner will take a history of the patient and perform a detailed physical examination. A battery of laboratory tests will be performed along with radiologic studies to ascertain as to the cause of the symptoms and rule in or our certain medical conditions that cause similar symptoms to that of Retroperitoneal Abscess.

Once the healthcare provider suspects Retroperitoneal Abscess, a closer look at the abdominal area is warranted and this is done by way of MRI and CT scans. An ultrasound of the abdomen may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis of Retroperitoneal Abscess. All these tests will confirm whether the individual is suffering from some cyst or a tumor whether it is actually a Retroperitoneal Abscess.

How is Retroperitoneal Abscess Treated?

As stated, Retroperitoneal Abscess is a treatable condition if it is identified in the early stages. Antibiotics are the front line treatment for Retroperitoneal Abscess and the pus that has been formed in the cavity is drained. It is important to drain the pus and this can be achieved either surgically or through an ultrasound guided needle technique. Once the pus is drained from the cavity, then it is further sent to the laboratory for further analysis. Surgery is recommended in cases where it is difficult to reach the abscess through a needle.

Since Retroperitoneal Abscess is a condition which is often at times not diagnosed, it may take days to weeks for a skilled physician to actually diagnose Retroperitoneal Abscess and then formulate a treatment plan to treat it. Hence, if an individual is having any symptoms which may be similar to those of a Retroperitoneal Abscess or has a history of infection to the appendix or pancreas to get in touch with a healthcare provider at the earliest so that a prompt diagnosis can be made and treatment can be formulated of a Retroperitoneal Abscess.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 29, 2017

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