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Perirenal abscess

Perirenal abscess is a pocket of pus around one or both kidneys. It is caused by an infection.

Causes of Perirenal abscess

Most perirenal abscesses are caused by urinary tract infections that start in the bladder. They then spread to the kidney, and to the area around the kidney. Surgery in the urinary tract or reproductive system and a bloodstream infection can also lead to a perirenal abscess.

The biggest risk factor for perirenal abscess is kidney stones, by blockage of urine flow. This provides a place for an infection to grow. Bacteria tend to stick to the stones and antibiotics cannnot kill the bacteria there.

Stones are found in 20 to 60% of patients with perirenal abscess. Other risk factors for perirenal abscess include:

  • Diabetes
  • Having an abnormal urinary tract
  • Trauma
  • IV drug use

Perirenal abscess Symptoms

Symptoms of perirenal abscess include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Pain in the flank (side of the abdomen) or abdomen, which may extend to the groin or down the leg
  • Sweating

Tests and Exams

The health care provider will examine you. You may have tenderness in the back or abdomen.

Tests include:

Treatment of Perirenal abscess

To treat perirenal abscess, the pus can be drained through a catheter that is placed through the skin or with surgery. Antibiotics should also be given, at first through a vein (IV).

Prognosis (Outlook)

In general, quick diagnosis and treatment of perirenal abscess should lead to a good outcome. Kidney stones must be treated to avoid further infections.

In rare cases, the infection can spread beyond the kidney area and into the bloodstream. This can be deadly.

Potential Complications

If you have kidney stones, the infection may not go away.

When to Contact a Health Professional

Call your health care provider if you have a history of kidney stones and develop:

Prevention of Perirenal abscess

If you have kidney stones, ask your provider about the best way to treat them to avoid a perirenal abscess. If you undergo urologic surgery, keep the surgical area as clean as possible.


Chambers HL. Staphylococcal infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 296.

Schaeffer AJ, Schaeffer EM. Infections of the urinary tract. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 10.

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Review Date: 1/21/2015
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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