Liver abscesses in the Western pediatric population

Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2022 Jul-Sep;85(3):439-445. doi: 10.51821/85.3.10211. Epub 2022 Jun 30.


Background and study aims: Liver abscesses are rare in the Western pediatric population and data on predisposing factors and etiology are scarce. We aimed to describe predisposing factors, microbiological characteristics, and treatment.

Patients and methods: Retrospective analysis of children admitted to two tertiary care hospitals in Belgium from 1 January 1996 to 31 December 2019. We analyzed clinical features, predisposing factors, imaging characteristics, microbiological data, treatment, and outcome in children with a liver abscess and compared these data with the literature.

Results: We collected 24 cases with a male to female ratio of 1.4 and a median age of 3.2 years at time of diagnosis. Survival was 95.8%. Invasive culture specimens were obtained in 83.3% and showed growth of bacteria in 55%. Parenteral antibiotics were administered before invasive culture sampling in 80%. Liver abscesses were cryptogenic in four (16.7%) patients. Hepatobiliary disease was the most prevalent predisposing factor (n = 6; 25%), followed by recent antineoplastic therapy for malignancies (n = 5; 20.8%), intra-abdominal surgical pathology (n = 4; 16.7%) and umbilical venous catheters (n = 2; 8.3%). In two patients there was a parasitic origin (n = 2; 8.3%) and in one it was caused by Bartonellosis. There was no diagnosis of chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) in our cohort.

Conclusions: Pediatric liver abscesses have a favorable outcome in the developed world. Whenever feasible, invasive abscess culture specimens should be obtained. In patients presenting with a cryptogenic liver abscess or atypical disease course, immunological workup should be ensured.

Keywords: microbiology; predisposing factors; treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Liver Abscess* / diagnosis
  • Liver Abscess* / epidemiology
  • Liver Abscess* / therapy
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents