What is a spleen abscess?
A spleen abscess occurs when bacteria or fungi from elsewhere in the body travel through the blood stream into the spleen tissue where they multiply.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of a spleen abscess include fever, left upper abdominal pain, and left chest pain. On palpation the left upper abdomen is tender and an enlarged spleen can be detected.
How is a spleen abscess diagnosed?
To make a diagnosis, the physician will perform a physical examination of the patient is performed as well as the use of a combination of following tools to make a diagnosis:
• X-ray – confirm a splenic enlargement;
• CT scan – will show the details of the splenic abscess and the displacement of the neighboring organs (colon, stomach, kidney, and elevated left-sided diaphragm);
• Ultrasound – would show a larger abscess of more than 2.5 cm in diameter;
• Blood cultures – often isolate the offending cause of disease.
How is a spleen abscess treated?
Like with any other abscess, the pus in a spleen abscess must be drained and the infection needs to be treated with appropriate antibiotics. Ignoring a spleen abscess will only lead to deterioration of the patient and eventual death of blood poisoning (septicemia).
The surgeon will likely attempt a percutaneous (needle through the skin into the spleen) insertion of a catheter into the abscess cavity. The catheter is then hooked up to a vacuum for a period of time until the drain no longer produces pus and blood tests show that the infection has subsided.