What Is Pyaemia?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Pyaemia or pyemia is the formation of multiple spreading abscesses across the the body in patients with septicemia. In some patients, an abscess causes the septicemia and leads to additional health complications, while in others, the infectious organisms responsible for the septicemia cause the abscesses. This condition requires treatment, as it can be fatal, sometimes very rapidly. Typically aggressive antibiotics are necessary, and some patients may need surgery and other interventions to recover successfully from the infection and abscesses.

Patients with this condition experience symptoms like fever, chills, altered level of consciousness, and heat in the joints. A blood test can reveal the presence of bacteria, with Staphylococcus species being the most common culprits. Medical imaging may show internal abscesses, or test results could suggest that there is an ongoing inflammatory process somewhere in the body. The abscesses also typically cause pain and soreness.

Abscesses associated with pyaemia can show up in many different areas of the body, including organs, muscles, and soft tissue. They fill with bacteria, pus, and debris, and can put pressure on nerves and other structures. There is a potential for serious complications, such as damage to the spinal cord caused by an abscess on the spine, or infertility associated with abscesses in the pelvic cavity. If the abscesses spread unchecked, the rampant inflammation can eventually lead to organ failure and death.


Doctors treating a patient with pyaemia usually provide antibiotics initially to get the infection under control. If the patient does not respond to the medications, the doctor may try a different drug, or could consider using a bacterial culture to assess antibiotic vulnerability. The patient may also need surgery to access, drain, and clean the abscesses, some of which may require drain placement to allow fluids to escape while the patient heals.

Hospitalization is usually required in pyaemia treatment. Many patients are very ill and may need nutritional support and other therapeutic treatments that are not available in a home environment. If drains are placed in surgery, the patient needs monitoring and nursing care, and nurses also need to check for signs of complications or spreading abscesses. Survival rates for pyaemia vary depending on the patient's health at the onset of disease and the level of care received. Focused, intensive care tends to result in better patient outcomes, as nurses and other providers can catch and respond to medical complications as early as possible.



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