• Primary pancreatic abscess should be suspected in patients with acute or subsiding pancreatitis who have a tender abdominal mass with evidence of local and systemic sepsis. These individuals have a prolonged course of illness compared with patients with uncomplicated pancreatitis. Another group of patients without overt signs of sepsis may have abdominal masses thought to be pseudocysts, with unexplained temperature elevation and leukocytosis. This latter group may also have pancreatic suppuration, termed secondary because of its natural history. The distinction between primary and secondary abscesses is difficult unless time of onset of the preceding pancreatitis is known. Both groups of patients require early, thorough operation. Signs of sepsis or progressive deterioration in patients with acute pancreatitis must be recognized early since untreated abscess is usually fatal. Extensive debridement and external drainage of all abscess cavities present, preferably via posterolateral flank drain sites, are essential to successful surgical treatment of pancreatic abscess.
(Arch Surg 115:905-909, 1980)