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Alternative Names Return to topLiver abscess; Bacterial liver abscess
Definition Return to top
Pyogenic liver abscess is a pus-filled area in the liver.
Causes Return to top
There are many potential causes of liver abscesses, including:
The most common bacteria that cause liver abscesses are:
In most cases, more than one bacteria is found.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Treatment usually consists of surgery or going through the skin with a needle or tube (percutaneous) to drain the abscess. Along with this procedure, you will receive long-term antibiotic therapy (usually 4 - 6 weeks). Sometimes antibiotics alone can cure the infection.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Even with treatment this condition can be life-threatening in 10-30% of patients. The risk is higher in people who have many abscesses.
Possible Complications Return to top
Life-threatening sepsis can develop.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have:
Prevention Return to top
Prompt treatment of abdominal and other infections may reduce the risk of developing a liver abscess. Many cases are not preventable.
References Return to top
Chung RT, Friedman LS. Bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections of the liver, including liver abscess. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Sleisenger MH, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006: chap 79.Update Date: 9/17/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M Vyas, PhD, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.