Liver abscesses in children: a single center experience in the developed world

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2006 Feb;42(2):201-6. doi: 10.1097/01.mpg.0000189344.23387.26.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical and radiologic features, predisposing risk factors, and complications of children with pyogenic liver abscess (PLA) referred to a tertiary pediatric hepatology center.

Methods: We analyzed our database of all children referred to our unit over a 10 year period and performed a case note review of all patients with a radiologically proven PLA.

Results: PLA was diagnosed in 15 children (7 boys), 0.5% of all referrals. They presented at a median age of 10 years (range 2 months-15 years). In three children (2 boys), PLA was the first manifestation of chronic granulomatous disease. Among the others, five had radiologic evidence of other intra-abdominal pathology (1 with subsequently proven appendicitis), and four developed portal vein thrombosis with portal hypertension. The commonest isolated pathogen was Staphylococcus aureus. Combined treatment with guided aspiration and prolonged intravenous antibiotics was successful in all patients.

Conclusion: PLA is a rare diagnosis in children in the developed world. It may be caused by primary neutrophil disorders even in the absence of a previous history of infection. Co-existent appendicitis, intra-abdominal sepsis, and ascending pylephlebitis must be sought because these children are at risk of developing portal vein obstruction and portal hypertension. Prolonged intravenous antibiotic treatment guided by microbiologic sensitivities is highly effective.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Developed Countries
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / etiology
  • Infant
  • Liver Abscess / complications
  • Liver Abscess / epidemiology*
  • Liver Abscess / etiology*
  • Liver Abscess / microbiology
  • Male
  • Portal Vein / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Staphylococcal Infections / complications*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents