Liver Abscess

General Considerations

-Hepatic abscesses may be bacterial, parasitic, or fungal in origin.

-the most common identifiable cause of hepatic abscess is acute cholangitis resulting from biliary obstruction due to a stone, stricture or neoplasm

-Pyogenic liver abscesses are the most common liver abscesses seen in the United States.

-Abscesses are most commonly single, but more than one may be present.

-The right lobe is usually involved.

Causes: suppurative process, infection from appendicitis, diverticulitis, bacterial endocarditis, renal infection, lung infection, infected indwelling catheters,

Symptoms & Signs

Fatigue,fever, right upper quadrant pain, chills, jaundice, weight loss, elevated hemidiaphragm


Labs: Leukocytosis with a left shift, positive blood cultures, elevated AP level  

Imaging: Chest radiographs, Ultrasonography, CT, or MRI of the liver

Hepatic candidiasis: CT liver shows multiple ‘bulls-eyes’


Bacterial abscess: Empiric antibiotic therapy should cover gram-negative and anaerobic organisms

Fungal abscess: Amphotericin B, Fluconazole

Amebiasis: Metronidazole or tinidazole

Surgery: percutaneous drainage, open debridement, lobectomy


-With drainage and antibiotics, the cure rate is about 90%.

-The overall mortality rate of 15%

-The mortality rate is about 40% in patients with malignant disease.


Fungal abscesses are associated with mortality rates of up to 50%

  1. What is the most common presenting sign of liver abscess? Fever
  2. What is the single most reliable laboratory finding in patients with liver abscess? Elevated serum alkaline phosphatase
  3. What is the most useful diagnostic aid in evaluating liver abscess? Ultrasound liver

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