Medical Definition of Abscess

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Abscess: A local accumulation of pus anywhere in the body. The following are some examples of abscesses:

  1. A skin abscess is better known as a common boil;
  2. A peritonsillar abscess is a persistent collection of pus behind the tonsils; and
  3. A perianal abscess is a pool of pus that forms next to the anus, often causing considerable tenderness and swelling in that area and pain on sitting down and on defecating.
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Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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