What Is a Kidney Abscess?

After an abscess has been treated, physicians will take care of the cause of the abscess, such as kidney stones.
A renal ultrasound may be conducted to confirm the presence of a kidney abscess.
A kidney abscess forms when infection breaks down kidney tissue.
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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A renal or kidney abscess is a pus-filled hole in a kidney that forms when the tissues of that kidney begin to break down due to a bacterial infection. It is a rare disease, but if it is not treated, it may be fatal. If an abscess occurs in the kidney, it is typically the result of a severe kidney infection or a urinary tract infection that was left untreated.

Some people are more prone to kidney abscesses than others. For example, people plagued by kidney stones are often susceptible to the condition. In addition, people with kidney inflammation and urinary tract infections may suffer from the disease if they are not promptly treated. Individuals with abscesses in their skin due to the abuse of intravenous drugs or other health issues may also be at risk for abscesses.

The symptoms of a kidney abscess may vary from person to person. Generally, the affected individual experiences fever, abdominal pain, chills, and weight loss. Many people experience pain when they urinate, and occasionally their urine may have blood in it. Because the symptoms are often similar to other conditions, it may be difficult for medical doctors to diagnose an abscessed kidney.

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A series of laboratory tests and x-rays are most helpful in determining whether a kidney abscess is present. For example, many affected individuals have an increased number of white blood cells. In addition, bacteria may be present in the person’s urine or blood, and an x-ray may allow doctors to learn the extent of the infection. Many medical providers may use ultrasound technology or computed tomography (CT) scans to identify a kidney abscess as well.

There are options for treating a kidney abscess. For example, the affected individual may be given antibiotics intravenously or via an IV. If the abscess needs to be drained of pus, the individual might be required to undergo surgery. Some doctors may use a catheter to perform drainage of the abscess as well.

After the abscess has been treated, most doctors will work to treat the cause of the abscess. For example, if a person has kidney stones, the stones will be removed; if a person has a urinary tract infection, it will be treated with antibiotics. To prevent a kidney abscess, it is important to treat all bacterial infections promptly. Any persistent pain, discomfort, or abnormalities of the body should be discussed with a medical professional as soon as possible.

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Discuss this Article

anon344311
Post 8

I had cellulitis in my toe that was treated two weeks ago with antibiotics, but two days after I went to the center care, I went to the hospital with swelling of my lymph nodes and horrible pain in what I felt to be my spleen/kidney, under my left rib cage. They did a CT scan and said I had a small kidney flake (stone) and urine analysis said I had a small bladder infection.

Now it's two weeks later and I've taken all my antibiotics, but the pain is still persistent in the same spot under my rib cage and it hurts to breathe. Could it be an abscess from the cellulitis? I am very healthy, a dancer, and have never had kidney pain before in my life.

anon335626
Post 7

I'm in the hospital now with an abscess on my right kidney and let me tell you, it hurts. It is one of the most painful things I have ever been through. I could have prevented it by being treated for a urinary tract infection sooner. I've been given pain meds like dilaudid and Percocet, along with strong IV antibiotics. My hospital stay is at six nights.

anon324349
Post 6

I would like to know the best treatment for a patient with kidney abscess. Is smoking harmful to a patient with a kidney abscess?

ittabitta
Post 5

How would you like to go to the hospital thinking you had pain from a kidney stone and after numerous tests, the doctor says he will do a laparoscopy to see what is going on. Hours later he states he has removed my appendix. Even though I was still ill and had fever two days later, he discharged me and suggested I go to the gynecologist.

All my medical records were compiled and I went to another city to see the gyno. Upon reading my hospital record, he says I need to go back to the surgeon, who took my "healthy" appendix to have a renal abscess drained from my kidney. This was in the hospital report from the beginning.

I refused to go back to that quack and was immediately admitted to the local hospital. I underwent surgical drainage of a 5 cm renal abscess and had an additional nine day hospital stay.

Can you believe that three lawyers did not think I had a case against this guy for an unnecessary surgery that probably even aggravated my condition and for a lack of treatment for what that hospital test obviously found?

It ended up being an e-coli infection that caused the abscess. I got that report from the second hospital.

Some advice: Make sure to get to the doctor or get medicine prescribed if you have frequent UTIs.

orangey03
Post 4

@Perdido - In a person with no abnormal kidney conditions, the kidneys are located toward the back of the abdomen above the waist. To determine just where this is, put your hands upon your hips. The kidneys should be located near where your thumbs fall.

The right kidney usually sits just under the liver. The left kidney sits just beneath the spleen.

If you are having abdominal pain, especially the kind that radiates to the back, then you should consult your doctor. You might have some sort of kidney condition that can only be diagnosed with a CT scan. I had severe abdominal pain, and it turns out that I also had a kidney disease.

Perdido
Post 3

I have been having a lot of discomfort in my abdomen that seems to go all the way through to my back. What is the exact location of the kidneys?

shell4life
Post 2

@kylee07drg - I understand you wanting to put off going to the doctor as long as possible. Antibiotics can have somewhat unpleasant side effects. Also, there's the time you have to miss from work to go. I felt the same way.

That is why I waited until the vomiting started to visit my doctor. I had been experiencing discomfort in the bladder area and my kidneys for a few weeks, and I had to urinate every hour. I drank cranberry juice and wished it away. However, when I woke up one morning and vomited, I knew it was time to get help.

My little urinary tract infection had progressed into a kidney infection and then into a kidney abscess. I had to undergo surgery for pus drainage. I also required intravenous antibiotics.

If I could do it all over, I would have gone straight to the doctor at the first signs. I would have avoided a whopping hospital bill.

kylee07drg
Post 1

Wow! I had no idea that leaving a urinary tract infection untreated could cause something like this to happen! I often wait until I can stand the symptoms no longer before visiting the doctor, but now I think I will go as soon as I'm sure of the infection.

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