Lung abscess

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  • Aspiration PNA (7-14 days to become lung abscess)
  • Bacteremia from nonpulmonary infection
  • Pulmonary infarction
  • Infection as a result of penetrating chest trauma
  • Primary and metastatic neoplasms
  • Wegener's, sarcoidosis

Clinical Presentation

  • Cough, fever, pleuritic chest pain, wt loss, night sweats (generally over course of several weeks)
    • Tachycardia, tachypnea, or fever may be absent

Differential Diagnosis

  • Cavitary lesion w/ air-fluid level
  • Infected bullae
  • Pleural fluid collection with bronchopleural fistula
  • Loop of bowel extending through diaphragmatic hernia

Diagnostic Evaluation

  • CXR or CT Chest
  • Dense consolidation w/ air-fluid level inside of a thick-walled cavitary lesion
    • Air-fluid level indicates communication of abscess cavity with a bronchiole


  • Medical management will successfully treat 70-90% of lung abscesses
    • Drainage occurs spontaneously from communication of cavity w/ tracheobronchial tree
    • Bronchoscopic drainage may result in seeding other parts of the lung
  • Antibiotics


  • Empyema
  • Massive hemoptysis


  • Admit

See Also