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Am J Emerg Med. 1999 Mar;17(2):192-7.

Renal abscess: early diagnosis and treatment.

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Emergency Department, Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.


The purpose of this study was to identify initial clinical characteristics that can lead to early diagnosis of renal abscess in the emergency department and predict poor prognosis. A retrospective review of 88 renal abscess patients, from April 1979 through January 1996, was conducted. Patients were categorized into two groups. In group 1, renal abscess was diagnosed by an emergency physician, whereas in group 2 renal abscess was not diagnosed by an emergency physician. Clinical characteristics included demographic data, predisposing medical problems, duration of illness before diagnosis, time spent in hospital diagnosis, initial signs and symptoms, laboratory tests, and radiology studies that may have been useful in the early diagnostic regimes. Clinical factors were also analyzed for their value in predicting poor prognosis. The mean age of 88 patients with renal abscess was 59.8 years. The most common predisposing disorder was diabetes mellitus, followed by renal calculi and ureteral obstruction. The duration of diagnosis by emergency physicians was shorter for group 1 patients (1.2 +/- .4 v group 2, 2.8 +/- 2.9 days; P < .01) and the blood urea nitrogen level was higher in group 1 (55.7 +/- 42.2 mg/dL, v group 2, 33.5 +/- 33.5 mg/dL; P = .02). In the early diagnosis of renal abscess, emergency physicians should focus on patients who have predisposing disorders, ie, diabetes mellitus, renal stones, immunosuppression, longer duration of symptoms of urinary tract infection, and renal failure, who should promptly be investigated with ultrasound in the emergency department. The cure rate after treatment with routine antibiotics plus percutaneous drainage was 64%. This therapy is recommended for initial treatment. Poor prognosis is associated with elderly patients with lethargy and with elevation of the serum blood urea nitrogen level.

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