Pyogenic liver abscess: recent trends in etiology and mortality

Clin Infect Dis. 2004 Dec 1;39(11):1654-9. doi: 10.1086/425616. Epub 2004 Nov 9.


Background: Pyogenic liver abscess, a potentially life-threatening disease, has undergone significant changes in epidemiology, management, and mortality over the past several decades.

Methods: We reviewed the data for patients admitted to Bellevue Hospital and New York University Downtown Hospital (New York, New York) over a 10-year period.

Results: Of 79 cases reviewed, 43% occurred in patients with underlying biliary disease. The most common symptoms were fever, chills, and right upper quadrant pain or tenderness. The most common laboratory abnormalities were an elevated white blood cell count (in 68% of cases), temperature >or=38.1 degrees C (90%), a low albumin level (70.2%), and an elevated alkaline phosphatase level (67%). Seventy percent of the abscesses were in the right lobe, and 77% were solitary. Klebsiella pneumoniae was identified in 41% of cases in which a pathogen was recovered. Eighteen (50%) of 36 Asian patients had K. pneumoniae isolated, in contrast to 6 (27.3%) of 22 non-Asian patients (not statistically significant). Fifty-six percent of cases involved treatment with percutaneous drainage. Although prior reports noted mortality of 11%-31%, we observed only 2 deaths (mortality, 2.5%).

Conclusions: The data suggest that K. pneumoniae has become the predominant etiology of pyogenic liver abscess and that mortality from this disease has decreased substantially.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Abscess, Pyogenic / diagnosis
  • Liver Abscess, Pyogenic / microbiology*
  • Liver Abscess, Pyogenic / mortality*
  • Liver Abscess, Pyogenic / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged