Kidney Abscess

A renal abscess is an encapsulated accumulation of pus in the kidney tissue. Kidney abscesses can occur for a variety of reasons and usually require hospital treatment.

Kidney Abscess

What is a kidney abscess?

When pus collects in the kidney tissue and encapsulates, it is called a kidney abscess. The symptoms of such a bacterial inflammation are serious, the patients suffer from severe kidney pain, fever and elimination disorders. See definitionexplorer for Kawasaki Syndrome Definitions.

The main pain occurs in the flank, on the side of the affected kidney. Kidney function is not affected by the abscess, but immediate treatment is necessary because of the risk of blood poisoning.

Kidney abscesses can occur singly or in groups. If several abscesses join together to form a large focus of pus, it is referred to as a carbuncle. The accumulation of pus can settle in different areas of the kidney, sometimes only the renal cortex is affected.


There are various causes that can lead to the development of a kidney abscess. The accumulation of pus is often the result of a previous urinary tract infection.

The bacteria rise through the urinary tract to the kidneys, where they cause the pus to form. Skin diseases are also possible triggers for the kidney abscess; the bacteria are transported to the kidneys via the bloodstream and encapsulate themselves there.

An abscess caused by skin diseases is usually not located directly in the kidney, but settles in the accessory cortex. Patients who suffer from kidney stones generally have a higher risk of developing a kidney abscess, so regular monitoring should be carried out if kidney stones are known.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A kidney abscess is usually manifested by clear symptoms and symptoms. First, the growth causes general symptoms such as fever, chills and exhaustion. This is accompanied by severe headaches, which those affected usually describe as dull to throbbing. A kidney abscess can also cause bladder problems.

Then there is stabbing pain or blood deposits in the urine. The urine is also often milky-white or unusually transparent. As the disease progresses, serious symptoms occur, such as pain in the kidneys or urinary retention. The fever gets worse over time and is often associated with sweating, insomnia and severe exhaustion.

Rapid treatment of the abscess can quickly relieve the symptoms described. Normally, the patients are free of symptoms after just a few days. Only the kidney pain can persist for a few weeks or months, depending on the cause. In the case of larger abscesses, kidney damage can remain, which permanently restricts those affected in everyday life. If the kidney abscess is not treated in time, the bacteria can get into the blood and cause sepsis. In the worst case, this can lead to a circulatory collapse and the death of the patient.

Diagnosis & History

The first contact with the doctor is usually due to the severe symptoms. Severe pain in the affected flank is characteristic of a kidney abscess. The doctor first gets an overview by talking to the patient and then carries out an ultrasound examination as an imaging procedure.

At the same time, blood and urine are examined to find out the inflammation values. Symptoms are usually very acute and progressively worsen. Fever, headache, flank pain, and chills are clear signs of a kidney abscess and require immediate treatment.

If left untreated, a kidney abscess can, in the worst case, lead to blood poisoning and thus be fatal. With timely treatment, symptoms improve within a few days.


A kidney abscess can cause various complications, which should usually always be treated by an appropriate doctor. Those who do not undergo treatment put themselves at great risk. An abscess is a cavity filled with pus. In most cases, such an abscess is caused by an existing inflammation, so that the formation of pus can also increase significantly afterwards.

If this clinical picture remains without any treatment, further complications are inevitable. A severe, stabbing headache often accompanies an abscess in the kidneys. Elevated temperature and nausea are also common complications associated with a kidney abscess. Anyone who decides to seek medical treatment at this point is definitely making the right decision.

An abscess on the kidneys must definitely be treated medically or with medication. Otherwise, it can even lead to dangerous blood poisoning, which in the worst case can even lead to death. Therefore, if you have an abscess in your kidneys, you must go to the doctor. Complications and other problems can only be avoided with appropriate treatment.

When should you go to the doctor?

Complaints such as fever, headache or a general feeling of illness should be clarified by a doctor. If there are stabbing pains in the kidney area and milky-white urine, this indicates a kidney disease. A doctor must determine whether it is a kidney abscess or another disease and take further steps depending on the findings. Medical advice is required if the symptoms described persist for more than a few days or rapidly increase in intensity.

A kidney abscess must always be treated to avoid complications such as sepsis and circulatory shock. In the worst case, a kidney abscess can lead to the death of the patient. People suffering from a urinary tract infection or kidney stones are particularly at risk. People with chronic skin diseases also belong to the risk groups and should definitely see a doctor with the symptoms mentioned. In addition to the family doctor, the nephrologist or another internist can be consulted. In acute cases, an immediate visit to the hospital is indicated.

Treatment & Therapy

A kidney abscess is first treated with antibiotics to contain the source of inflammation as quickly as possible. Patients are admitted to the hospital as inpatients in order to notice a worsening of symptoms in good time.

As a rule, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is administered, which already shows its first effect within the first three days. Initiated antibiotic therapy must be carried out over a period of at least 14 days. This is to prevent an abscess from forming again from a residual stock of bacteria.

Depending on the extent of the suppuration, the pus must be drained as part of a nephrostomy. A catheter is inserted through the skin into the kidney tissue under local anesthesia and the pus is drained. An immediate improvement of the symptoms and especially the pain is the result of this treatment. Many patients develop new abscesses or carbuncles over and over again. In this case, the removal of the affected kidney can be useful to protect the body from further inflammation.

The removal of a kidney does not cause any impairment for the person concerned, as long as the other kidney is symptom-free and fully functional. The ongoing burden on the body from kidney abscesses poses far more dangers for the patient than life with just one kidney.

Outlook & Forecast

Medical care is necessary for a good prognosis for a kidney abscess. Normally, a hospital stay is necessary, since life is at risk under unfavorable circumstances. Without medical treatment, the person affected is at risk of blood poisoning and thus premature, sudden death.

As soon as the first symptoms appear, it is advisable to see a doctor so that a diagnosis can be made as quickly as possible. At a very early stage of the disease, drug treatment is usually sufficient. In this, the pathogens are prevented from spreading further and killed at the same time. The dead germs are then automatically removed and excreted by the organism. Within a few days there is already a significant improvement in health and after a few weeks you can be free of symptoms.

During an inpatient stay, it is checked to what extent accumulations of pus have formed. The stay is often a precautionary measure so that immediate action can be taken if health deteriorates. Some patients require surgery to completely remove the pus from the body. Even with this approach, recovery is possible within a few weeks under normal conditions. If kidney damage is already present, the prognosis worsens. Complications of kidney function can occur, which affect the further course and possible recovery.


In order to prevent a kidney abscess, some rules of conduct should always be observed. Since a common trigger for an abscess is a urinary tract infection, it should be avoided if possible. Adequate daily drinking can prevent the development of a bladder infection. Not using intimate sprays or soaps with a strong perfume can also prevent bacteria from forming in the urinary tract. Colds are often the trigger for diseases in the area of ​​the urinary tract and kidneys, so these should be avoided at all costs.


Follow-up care for a kidney abscess includes regular check-ups. The doctor draws blood and examines the kidney using imaging methods such as ultrasound or CT. In addition, the drug treatment must be reset or completed. The medical check-ups can be gradually reduced.

The interval depends on the individual course of the disease. Follow-up care is provided by an internist or nephrologist. Accompanying this, a causal treatment is necessary, which is initiated as part of the aftercare. Follow-up care for a kidney abscess also includes a patient consultation.

The doctor will ask about any symptoms such as kidney pain or feelings of pressure and suggest suitable countermeasures. After an operation, the surgical wound must be checked. Treatment must be restarted if the symptoms persist or if the abscess recurs.

Since a kidney abscess is a painful condition, the pain treatment usually has to be continued beyond the actual treatment. Which measures are necessary as part of the aftercare in detail must be discussed with the responsible general practitioner or nephrologist. The patient should watch for any unusual symptoms and inform the doctor about them.

You can do that yourself

In the case of a kidney abscess, the patient has few options for self-treatment. Medical care is necessary to avoid serious or life-threatening situations. In support of medical treatment, the body should be given sufficient rest and protection. Sporting activities or physically demanding activities should be avoided completely. Slight compensatory movements to prevent muscle problems can be carried out, but they must be adapted to the needs of the organism.

It is advisable to make sure that you drink enough fluids every day. The recommended minimum amount is 2 liters per day. A healthy and balanced diet also helps to support the immune system. Staying in fresh air and with enough oxygen also stabilizes the body’s immune system. The consumption of alcohol is to be avoided. The body should also not be fed with any harmful substances such as nicotine or drugs. This worsens the general state of health and provokes complications.

Medicinal plants or the enjoyment of kidney teas can be used in self-help. Care products, detergents or soaps for the kidney area or in the intimate area should be pH-neutral and fragrance-free. The patient should protect himself adequately from exposure to cold or draughts. Sitz baths and warm clothing help and promote the recovery process. Adequate protection of the kidneys from the cold at night is important.