An empyema (from Greek ἐμπύημα, "abscess") is a collection of pus within a naturally existing anatomical cavity. For example, pleural empyema is empyema of the pleural cavity. It must be differentiated from an abscess, which is a collection of pus in a newly formed cavity.
In human medicine, empyema occurs in:
- the pleural cavity (pleural empyema also known as pyothorax)
- the thoracic cavity
- the uterus (pyometra)
- the appendix (appendicitis)
- the meninges (subdural empyema)
- the joints (septic arthritis)
- the gallbladder
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