PR. M. BRAUNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PR. M. BRAUNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Lung abscess. Coloured X-ray of a patient with an abscess (orange and yellow, centre left) in the right lung. An abscess is an area of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue and tissue destruction. Lung abscesses are caused by bacteria that are breathed into the lungs. Symptoms include fever, weight loss, shortness of breath and a cough with foul smelling sputum. Lung abscesses are rare in healthy individuals, they are usually a complication of pneumonia, alcoholism, poor dental hygiene, anaesthesia or a weak immune system. Treatment is with antibiotics and oxygen therapy, in extreme cases the affected area of lung may be surgically removed.
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