Topic Completed: 1 August 2011

Minor changes: 20 July 2020

Copyright: 2003-2021,, Inc.

PubMed search: abcess [title] lung infection

Elliot Weisenberg, M.D.
Page views in 2020: 4,664
Page views in 2021 to date: 2,747
Cite this page: Weisenberg E. Abscess. website. Accessed October 15th, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Focal suppurative process characterized by necrosis of lung tissue (eMedicine)
Clinical features
  • Due to sinobronchial infections, dental sepsis, aspiration (due to alcoholism, coma, debilitation), primary bacterial infection (Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumonia), anaerobic and aerobic streptococci, fungi; anaerobes from the oral cavity (bacteroides, fusobacterium, peptococcus species are the only isolates in 60% of cases), bronchiectasis, post transplant, septic emboli, neoplasia induced obstruction, idiopathic
  • Aspiration induced abscesses are more common on right side (right sided bronchus is more vertical), usually single
  • Air fluid level present if there is communication with air passages
  • Symptoms: cough, fever, copious foul smelling sputum, fever, chest pain, weight loss, clubbing of digits
  • 10% of cases are associated with underlying carcinoma
  • May extend into pleural cavity and create septic emboli, causing meningitis or brain abscess; serve as nidus for fungal overgrowth (Mucor, aspergillus); may spread elsewhere in lung
  • Lobectomy
Gross description
  • Thick, fibrotic walls in chronic abscesses with adjacent active pneumonia
Gross images

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Various images

Microscopic (histologic) images

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Early abscess Early abscess

Early abscess

With bacteria

With bacteria

Chronic abscess

Chronic abscess

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