Hepatic abscess

Revision as of 13:13, 3 February 2015 by Rossdonaldson1 (talk | contribs) (See Also)


  • Uncommon overall, usually right liver lobe
  • More abscesses -> more severe disease
  • Camping history
  • Endemic of Midwest
  • Two types: pyogenic and amebic
    • Pyogenic
      • More common of the two
      • Associated with biliary tract obstruction (most common), cholangitis, diverticulitis, pancreatic abscess, appendicitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
      • Possible arterial hematogenous seeding: sepsis, direct trauma or instrumentation
    • Amebic


Clinical Features

Differential Diagnosis

RUQ Pain


  • CBC
    • Elevated white blood count (70-80%)
  • CMP
  • Liver Panel
    • Elevated alkaline phosphatase levels (90%)
  • Coags
  • Blood cultures
  • Ultrasound
    • 80-100% sensitivity
  • ABD/Pelvis CT
    • Imaging study of choice
    • Triphasic CT scan to define the proximity of the abscess to the major branches of the portal and hepatic veins


  • Diagnostic aspiration and drainage of the abscess followed by placement of drainage catheter
    • Sonographic guidance for small or superficial abscesses
    • CT guidance for deep or multiple abscesses
  • Surgical drainage
    • Abscesses > 5cm
    • Abscesses not amenable to percutaneous drainage due to location
    • Failure of percutaneous aspiration and drainage
    • Coexistence of inra-abdominal disease that requires surgical management


See Also


  1. Guss DA, Oyama LA: Disorders of the Liver and Biliary Tract, in Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al (eds): Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice, ed 7. St. Louis, Mosby, Inc., 2010, (Ch) 88: p 1153-1171.