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Pyogenic liver abscess

Liver abscess; Bacterial liver abscess

 

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

Causes

 

There are many possible causes of liver abscesses, including:

  • Abdominal infection, such as appendicitis, diverticulitis, or a perforated bowel
  • Infection in the blood
  • Infection of the bile draining tubes
  • Recent endoscopy of the bile draining tubes
  • Trauma that damages the liver

A number of common bacteria may cause liver abscesses. In most cases, more than one type of bacteria is found.

 

Symptoms

 

Symptoms of liver abscess may include:

  • Chest pain (lower right)
  • Pain in the right upper abdomen (more common) or throughout the abdomen (less common)
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Dark urine
  • Fever, chills, nightsweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Yellow skin (jaundice)

 

Exams and Tests

 

Tests may include:

  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Blood culture for bacteria
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Liver biopsy
  • Liver function tests

 

Treatment

 

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

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

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

 

Possible Complications

 

Life-threatening sepsis can develop.

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Any symptoms of this disorder
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Confusion or decreased consciousness
  • High fever that doesn't go away
  • Other new symptoms during or after treatment

 

Prevention

 

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

 

 

References

Kim AY, Chung RT. Bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections of the liver, including liver abscesses. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 84.

Sifri CD, Madoff LC. Infections of the liver and biliary system (liver abscess, cholangitis, cholecystitis). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 77.

 
  • Digestive system

    Digestive system - illustration

    The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

    Digestive system

    illustration

  • Pyogenic abscess

    Pyogenic abscess - illustration

    E coli

    Pyogenic abscess

    illustration

  • Digestive system organs

    Digestive system organs - illustration

    The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.

    Digestive system organs

    illustration

    • Digestive system

      Digestive system - illustration

      The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

      Digestive system

      illustration

    • Pyogenic abscess

      Pyogenic abscess - illustration

      E coli

      Pyogenic abscess

      illustration

    • Digestive system organs

      Digestive system organs - illustration

      The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.

      Digestive system organs

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Self Care

       

        Tests for Pyogenic liver abscess

         

         

        Review Date: 7/31/2016

        Reviewed By: 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, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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