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Rare disease
Abdominal wall abscess: more than meets the eye


An 83-year-old, mildly demented rest home resident presented to the emergency department with a 2 day history of a right sided abdominal wall mass. He had a mechanical fall 2 days previously and landed on his right side and had attributed the mass to this. He had no symptoms apart from feeling bloated and not being able to pass wind for a day. He had passed a normal bowel motion the day before presentation. On abdominal examination there was an 11 × 4 cm mass in the right lower quadrant. It was firm in consistency, non-fluctuant and non-tender to touch. There was mild erythema over the area but no skin breaks. Chest radiograph was unremarkable. The abdominal film showed dilated small bowel and no large bowel could be seen. A computed tomography (CT) scan showed a thick walled gallbladder with multiple calculi and air present. There was also an extensive air and fluid collection in the layers of the abdominal wall and subcutaneous fat which arose from a perforation of the gallbladder. The patient was not a surgical candidate due to multiple comorbidities. The patient was treated with antibiotics and underwent a CT guided percutaneous cholecystostomy. Despite the radiological intervention and antibiotics the patient progressively deteriorated and died peacefully 5 days after admission.

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