Prostate gland & seminal vesicles



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Last staff update: 28 June 2022

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PubMed search: prostatic abscess [TI] "last 5 years"[dp]

Andrii Puzyrenko, M.D., Ph.D.
Kenneth A. Iczkowski, M.D.
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Cite this page: Puzyrenko A, Iczkowski KA. Abscess. website. Accessed September 29th, 2023.
Definition / general
  • Complication resulting from the acute infectious process of the prostate (prostatitis) characterized by a focal accumulation of purulent material within the prostate (BMC Urol 2016;16:38)
Essential features
  • Infection is caused mainly by gram negative rods
  • Neutrophils and necrotic debris fill prostatic ducts and acini
  • Acute inflammatory disease of the prostate
ICD coding
  • ICD-10:
    • N41 - inflammatory diseases of prostate
      • N41.2 - abscess of prostate
  • ICD-11:
    • GA91 - inflammatory and other diseases of prostate
      • GA91.1 - abscess of prostate
  • Incidence of prostatic abscess is 0.5% of all urologic diseases and 6% of all acute bacterial prostatitis
  • Mortality rate is 1 - 16%
  • Most commonly in fifth to sixth decade but can occur at any age
  • Older males > younger males
  • Prostatic abscess due to sexually transmitted organisms: younger males > older males (Int Braz J Urol 2017;43:835)
  • Most common way of developing is a reflux of infected urinary contents into prostatic ducts (Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2011;22:298)
  • Risk factors: indwelling catheter, underlying voiding dysfunction, poorly controlled diabetes, end stage renal disease, cirrhosis, immunosuppression (Nat Rev Urol 2011;8:207)
  • Hematogenous dissemination from a distant primary (septic foci in respiratory, digestive, urinary tracts, skin and soft tissue) is rare (Arch Esp Urol 2011;64:62)
Clinical features
  • Systemic (Urol Int 1992;48:358)
    • Headache, fever, chills and general malaise, low back pain
  • Prostate (local) (Korean J Urol 2012;53:860)
    • Severely tender prostate with areas of fluctuation on digital rectal examination
    • Perineal pain
    • Dysuria, urinary urgency or frequency, hematuria, purulent urethral discharge
    • Obstructive urinary symptoms
  • History and physical findings
  • Complete blood count with differential, urinalysis
  • Imaging with transrectal ultrasound (the diagnostic method of choice), CT, MRI (rarely used) (Korean J Urol 2012;53:860)
  • Blood culture, urine culture
  • PCR (detection of sexually transmitted organisms)
  • > 10 white blood cells per high power field and pyuria
  • Bacterial culture and antibiotic susceptibility identification
  • DNA sequencing and nucleic acid amplification by PCR
  • Can raise the serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) above normal (Hinyokika Kiyo 1993;39:445)
Radiology description
  • Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) (Korean J Urol 2012;53:860)
    • 1 or more hypoechoic areas with well defined walls
    • Thick pus primarily in the transition zone and in the central zone of the prostate
  • Computed tomography (CT scan) of the abdomen and pelvis (AJR Am J Roentgenol 1987;148:899)
    • Can better delineate the spread of infection to adjacent organs
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (Indian J Radiol Imaging 2011;21:46)
    • Hypointense signal on T1 and hyperintense on T2 image
Radiology images

Images hosted on other servers:

ultrasound showing
prostatic abscess

TRUS showing hypoechoic lesion

Pelvic CT showing an abscess in the prostate

Prognostic factors
  • Depends on the timely diagnosis and treatment
  • Also depends on underlying medical conditions
  • Good prognosis if recognized and treated early
  • Poor prognostic factors: age > 65 years, fever > 100.4°F, benign prostatic hypertrophy, chronic catheterization (BMC Urol 2016;16:38)
Case reports
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:

Transurethral unroofing of a prostatic abscess

Abscess drainage with transurethral resection

Microscopic (histologic) description
Microscopic (histologic) images

Contributed by Kenneth A. Iczkowski, M.D.
Prostatic microabscess Prostatic microabscess

Prostatic microabscess

Cytology description
Positive stains
Sample pathology report
  • Prostate, biopsy:
    • Prostatic abscess (see comment)
    • Comment: Numerous neutrophilic infiltrates in lumen spaces and around glands consistent with acute inflammation. Some glands are partly damaged by microabscesses. Gram negative rods are noticed on Gram stain.
Differential diagnosis
  • Acute bacterial prostatitis:
    • Clinically and histologically similar (neutrophils are mostly in lumens and epithelium)
    • No fluctuant mass during a rectal examination
    • No hypoechoic areas on ultrasound
  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis:
    • Similar clinical symptoms but lower intensity
    • Predominant lymphocytic infiltration (lymphocytes are mostly in the stroma)
  • Granulomatous prostatitis:
    • Fever and chills are common
    • Irritative voiding symptoms of urgency, frequency
    • May have history of bladder cancer Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) treatment
    • Necrotizing or nonnecrotizing granulomas (cohesive clusters of histiocytes, usually with admixed lymphocytes, eosinophils, neutrophils)
  • Prostate carcinoma:
    • May mimic benign acini with reactive inflammatory atypia
    • Typically lack background inflammation
    • Small glands, sometimes medium to large glands, papillary or cribriform glands or solid growth, single cells or necrosis
    • Nucleomegaly, prominent and multiple nucleoli, lack basal cell layer

Differential diagnosis Histological changes Clinical presentation
Prostatic abscess Neutrophilic infiltrate with glands destruction; abscess formation; neutrophils fill prostatic ducts and acini Severely tender prostate with areas of fluctuation on digital rectal examination
Acute bacterial prostatitis Predominant neutrophilic infiltrates mostly in lumens and epithelium; no abscess formation Severely tender prostate without areas of fluctuation on digital rectal examination
Chronic bacterial prostatitis Predominant lymphocytic infiltrates mostly in the stroma Mildly tender prostate without areas of fluctuation on digital rectal examination
Granulomatous prostatitis Necrotizing or nonnecrotizing granulomas (cohesive clusters of histiocytes, usually with admixed lymphocytes, eosinophils, neutrophils with or without necrosis in the center) Mildly tender prostate on digital rectal examination; irritative voiding symptoms of urgency, frequency
Prostate carcinoma Typically lack background inflammation; small glands with papillary or cribriform or solid growth or single cells Firm/nodular, nontender prostate on digital rectal examination; blood in the urine
Board review style question #1

A 64 year old man comes to the clinic with the complaint of severe dysuria for the past week. Just a week before the beginning of these symptoms, the patient was treated with a short course of antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. The patient also complains of burning micturition for a week. He has a history of benign prostatic hypertrophy, causing urinary retention, sometimes needing catheterization in the past. On admission, he has a high grade fever. Rectal examination reveals an enlarged prostate that is tender to palpation. Transrectal ultrasound suggests a 2.3 cm collection in the prostate. What histological finding is most common for this entity?

  1. Eosinophilic infiltration
  2. Lymphocytic infiltration
  3. Microabscesses with neutrophils
  4. Necrotizing granulomas
  5. Nonnecrotizing granulomas
Board review style answer #1
C. Microabscesses with neutrophils. Acute inflammation of the prostate with abscess formation due to bacterial infection can show neutrophilic infiltrates in lumen spaces and in epithelium, consistent with gland destruction and microabscesses.

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Reference: Abscess
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