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August 1961

Retroperitoneal Abscess: A Clinical Study

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery of the Baltimore City Hospitals, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Arch Surg. 1961;83(2):322-328. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1961.01300140164030

The early diagnosis of retroperitoneal abscess may offer considerable difficulty. The initial course of infection in the retroperitoneal space is surprisingly latent and symptoms are often minimal or absent. Frequently the patient comes to the doctor late in the course of the disease and, even then, the correct diagnosis may be long delayed.

This condition has been little studied in the laboratory. The only experimental work published in the American literature is that of Meyer,7 who observed that when known amounts of bacteria were injected into the retroperitoneal space of the dog, the spread of infection was associated with fewer constitutional symptoms, and with a lower mortality, compared with the result of an equal amount of bacteria injected into the peritoneal cavity. He concluded that the retroperitoneal space was better able to control and contain infection than the peritoneal sac. These experiments are not strictly comparable with the usual

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