Definition of Lung Abscess

lung abscessLung abscess is a pocket of infection deep within the lung that isolates itself within a defined area of the lung (having a clear boundary between the infected tissue and the healthy tissue), usually behind a blocked segment of bronchus.

Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

A lung abscess often follows a known bacterial infection such as pneumonia or bronchitis in which inflammation or excessive mucus blocks an airway, though may occur without an obvious precipitating infection.

A lung abscess may cause cough, chest discomfort or pain, chills, bouts of profuse sweating (diaphoresis), and difficulty breathing (dyspnea). Chest x-ray or computed tomography (ct) SCAN allows the doctor to visualize the location and size of the abscess.

Cultured sputum samples often provide evidence of the infective pathogen. Treatment with antibiotic medications successfully eradicates most lung abscesses. Sometimes the abscess requires drainage, which the doctor often can do by placing a drain through the skin. Occasionally open surgery is necessary to open and clean the abscess, and to débride (trim away) damaged or dead tissue surrounding the abscess.

Most people heal completely and without complication with appropriate treatment. An untreated lung abscess can result in serious health consequences including significant loss of lung tissue or septicemia (total body infection, also called sepsis).


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