In Chinese medicine, an intestinal abscess is a manifestation of dampness or heat accumulation in the iliac fossa. The acute stage is characterized by stagnation of qi and blood and the rapid development of heat. In the subacute or chronic stage, the pattern is typically one of excess and stagnation, sometimes accompanied by deficiency and cold.
Acute intestinal abscesses are more common in younger individuals and are usually easily diagnosed. In elderly people and those with weak qi, the symptoms may be more subdued, making diagnosis more difficult.
In Western medicine, chronic or subacute cases of intestinal abscess are more commonly seen than acute cases. These chronic cases may lack the signs of acute heat, such as fever and sweating, and may instead be characterized by a fixed lower abdominal pain and a possible mass on palpation.