Liver Abscess

What is Liver Abcess?

When there is a pus-filled cavity or mass in the liver, it is called liver abscess. It may be a single lesion or multiple lesions. It usually occurs after a bacterial infection. Intake of prescriptive antibiotics may kill the infection. In more severe cases, a surgery helps to drain the pus which has accumulated in the liver. An abscess is usually associated with swelling and inflammation in the surrounding areas and abdomen.

There are three types of liver abscesses:

  • Pyogenic liver abscess caused by bacteria
  • Amoebic liver abscess caused by intestinal parasites
  • Fungal abscess often caused due to Candida species
Symptoms
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Pleuritis – painful chest upon breathing
  • Yellowing of skin – jaundice
  • High fever

Diagnosis Tests

Blood tests:  Blood tests will show elevated white blood count and high neutrophil levels indicating infection.

CT scan: Computed tomography is conducted to locate the abscess.

Blood cultures:  A culture test will identify the bacteria responsible for the infection.

Abdominal ultrasound and x-ray: An ultrasound helps to view the abscess present in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. A contrast dye will reflect the abscess better in the pictures.

Treatments

The treatment depends upon the size, number, and location of the abscess. Small abscesses can be treated with antibiotics and antiprotozoal drugs alone. Large abscesses require drainage with a drainage tube inserted through the abdomen to bring out all the pus. Sometimes surgery may be required to drain the abscess. Rarely emergency surgery is needed if the abscess has burst inside the belly with pus collection inside. This carries a higher risk than normal.