Splenic abscess. Report of 10 cases and review of the literature

Am J Med. 1976 Oct;61(4):513-22. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(76)90331-4.


Ten cases of splenic abscess seen between 1964 and 1974 are reviewed. Pain referable to the abscess was the most common symptom, but was present in only five cases. Fever was present in all but one case. Tenderness in the region of the spleen was noted in six cases, in three cases the spleen was palpable and in one case a large mass in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen was palpated. Abdominal films were suggestive of the diagnosis in two cases, and the liver-spleen scan demonstrated a defect in three cases. Seven abscesses were caused by gram-negative bacilli of bowel origin; the etiologic agents in the other three were Staphylococcus aureus, Streptobacillus moniliformis and a Nocardia species. Associated conditions predisposing to splenic abscess included trauma in three cases, splenic arteritis or embolization in five cases, and foci of infection elsewhere in the body in six, including two cases of endocarditis. The mortality was 60 per cent. Half of the deaths were due to the underlying illness, but failure to diagnose splenic abscess contributed to a fatal outcome in three cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Abscess / etiology
  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / complications
  • Female
  • Hematoma / complications
  • Hemoglobinopathies / complications
  • Humans
  • Infectious Mononucleosis / complications
  • Liver
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spleen
  • Splenic Diseases / complications
  • Splenic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Splenic Diseases / etiology
  • Streptococcal Infections / complications