Peripelvic abscesses: A diagnostic dilemma

Matthew A. Mormino, Paul W. Esposito, Stephen C. Raynor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Acute hematogenous peripelvic infections are common in tropical climates. However, in more temperate regions, this is a rare and often overlooked diagnosis. Because of the subtle and subacute nature of the symptoms, the diagnosis is often delayed. We report our experience with nine children treated for a hematogenous peripelvic infection. The hospital and clinic charts were reviewed of nine consecutive patients with the diagnosis of a peripelvic abscess. Patients ranged in age from 2 to 13 years. Symptoms were present from 5 to 20 days. The most consistent symptom was a hip- flexion pseudo-contracture (eight patients). The initial diagnosis was correct in only three patients. Computed tomography (CT) scan was diagnostic in all nine patients, providing diagnosis and localization. Seven of the nine patients underwent irrigation and debridement followed by a variable course of intravenous (i.v.) and oral antibiotics. All seven had rapid resolution of their symptoms. Two patients were treated with i.v. antibiotics alone, one of whom had a recurrence of symptoms. All nine patients had microbiologic confirmation of the infecting organisms [seven at surgery, one from blood cultures, one from sacroiliac (SI) joint aspiration]. Eight of the nine were infected by Staphylococcus aureus and one by group A Streptococcus. All had complete resolution of their symptoms at follow-up. Although acute retrofascial abscesses are rare in temperate climates, they should be considered in the differential diagnosis in the child with lower abdominal or hip pain. CT scan was the most helpful diagnostic test in these patients. Surgical drainage resulted in the most consistent results in this small series of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-163
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • CT scan
  • Peripelvic abscess
  • Peripelvic infection
  • Pseudocontacture
  • Retrofascial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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