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Abscess

Dr Henry Knipe and Dr Frank Gaillard et al.

Abscesses are focal confined collections of suppurative inflammatory material and can be thought of as having three components 1:

  1. central core comprised of necrotic inflammatory cells and local tissue
  2. peripheral halo of viable neutrophils
  3. surrounded by a 'capsule' with dilated blood vessels and proliferation of fibroblasts

Pathology

Aetiology

Abscesses can be caused by

  • bacteria
  • parasites
  • fungi
Location

Essentially any tissue in the body can play host to abscesses. Please refer to individual articles for further details.

History and etymology

The word 'abscess' derives from the Greek work 'aposteme' (άπό-ίστημι, 'a throwing off (of bad humours)'). The word first appeared in 1543 in a translation of a surgery text: "Aposteme - In latyne it is called abscissus" 3.

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