Treatments for Renal Abscesses

Renal abscesses are caused by urinary infections that begin in the bladder, then spread to the kidneys and the area around them. Read on to learn more!
Treatments for Renal Abscesses

Last update: 29 November, 2019

Renal abscesses are the accumulation of pus around one or both kidneys. They’re generally the result of the rupture of an acute cortical abscess. Unfortunately, renal abscesses have high mortality rates because they’re hard to diagnose.

They manifest at an average age of 46, and 80% of cases affect women. Although they’re rare in children, their consequences can be serious. These include sepsis, severe kidney damage, or even kidney loss.

Risk factors for renal abscesses

A woman with renal abscesses.

Experts identified some predisposing factors. Some of the most important are:

  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Urinary tract infection.
  • Vesicoureteral reflux.
  • Trauma.
  • Malignancies.
  • Liver disease.

40% of patients have multiple associated risk factors. Patients who were diagnosed with diabetes more than 10 years ago need more intensive care and nephrectomy.

The symptoms tend to last 11 days on average prior to diagnosis. However, only 35% of patients are correctly diagnosed when hospitalized. This is due to the lack of specific clinical data.


Renal abscesses are caused by urinary tract infections that start in the bladder. Then, they spread to the kidneys and the area around them. Urinary tract or reproductive system surgery or a bloodstream infection can also lead to renal abscesses.

The greatest risk factor is kidney stones, which block the flow of urine and can cause infection. Bacteria tend to stick to the kidney stones and the antibiotics can’t kill them there.

Between 20% and 60% of people with renal abscesses have kidney stones. Other risk factors for renal abscesses include diabetes, having an abnormal urinary tract, trauma, or intravenous drug use.

Read on: Five Herbal Remedies to Fight Kidney Pain

Symptoms and diagnosis

A man with back pain due to a kidney infection.

Some of the symptoms of renal abscesses are chills, fever, sweats, and flank or abdominal pain. However, the pain may radiate to the groin or leg. In addition, the patient may suffer from back tenderness.

Diagnostic tests include:


The most widely accepted treatment is drainage of the abscesses, either percutaneously or through open surgery. To treat renal abscesses, the pus can be drained through a catheter placed through the skin or surgery.

Similarly, antibiotics should be administered, initially through a vein. Later, the patient can switch to oral treatment when the infection improves. Open drainage is the option that’s most likely to solve renal abscesses.

Antibiotics for renal abscesses

Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for this condition. Drugs and how long the patient has to stay on them will depend on their state of health. However, medical professionals must also take into account the bacteria found in urine tests.

Usually, the signs and symptoms of a kidney infection begin to disappear within a few days of treatment. However, the patient may need to continue taking antibiotics for a week or more.

Experts recommend doing another urine culture to make sure the infection is gone. However, if the infection persists, the patient will require another antibiotic treatment.

If the infection is severe, hospitalization may be necessary. In this case, treatment may include intravenous antibiotics and fluids.

To reduce discomfort during your recovery, you can take a series of measures such as:

  • Apply heat. Place a warm compress on your abdomen, back, or side to relieve the pain.
  • Take painkillers. To lower a fever or reduce discomfort, take painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Drink liquids. Staying well-hydrated can help eliminate the bacteria through the urinary tract. Also, you should avoid drinking alcohol or coffee until the infection disappears.

In conclusion, renal abscesses are severe complications that require medical attention. If you notice any symptoms, it’s best to consult a specialist so they can diagnose you and make sure the problem doesn’t lead to dire consequences.

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