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Pyogenic liver abscess

Pyogenic liver abscess is a pus-filled area in the liver.

Alternative Names

Liver abscess; Bacterial liver abscess

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

There are many potential causes of liver abscesses, including:

The most common bacteria that cause liver abscesses are:

  • Bacteroides
  • Enterococcus
  • Escherichia coli
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus

In most cases, more than one type of bacteria is found.

Symptoms

Signs and tests

Tests may include:

Treatment

Treatment usually consists of placing a tube through the skin to drain the abscess. Less often, surgery is required. You will also receive antibiotics for about 4 - 6 weeks. Sometimes, antibiotics alone can cure the infection.

Expectations (prognosis)

This condition can be life threatening some patients. The risk for death is higher in people who have many liver abscesses.

Complications

Life-threatening sepsis can develop.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have:

Prevention

Prompt treatment of abdominal and other infections may reduce the risk of developing a liver abscess. Many cases are not preventable.

References

Reddy KR. Bacterial, parasitic, fungal and granulomatous liver diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 360.

Sifri CD, Madoff LC. Infections of the liver and biliary system. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone;2009:chap 72.

Updated: 8/15/2012

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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