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Diseases reference index «Pyogenic liver abscess»

Pyogenic liver abscess is a pus-filled area in the liver.


There are many potential causes of liver abscesses, including:

  • Abdominal infection such as appendicitis, diverticulitis, or a perforated bowel
  • Infection in the blood
  • Infection of the liver secretion (biliary) tract
  • Recent endoscopy of the biliary system
  • Trauma that damages the liver

The most common bacteria that cause liver abscesses are:

  • Bacteroides
  • Enterococcus
  • Escherichia coli
  • Klebsiella
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus

In most cases, more than one bacteria is found.


  • Chalk-colored stool
  • Dark urine
  • Fever, chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Pain in right upper abdomen (more common) or throughout the abdomen (less common)
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Yellow skin (jaundice)

Exams and Tests

Tests may include:

  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Blood culture for bacteria
  • Liver biopsy
  • Liver enzymes (liver function tests) and bilirubin
  • White blood cell count


Treatment usually consists of surgery or going through the skin with a needle or tube (percutaneous) to drain the abscess. Along with this procedure, you will receive long-term antibiotic therapy (usually 4 - 6 weeks). Sometimes antibiotics alone can cure the infection.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Even with treatment this condition can be life-threatening in 10 - 30% of patients. The risk is higher in people who have many abscesses.

Possible Complications

Life-threatening sepsis can develop.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Any symptoms of this disorder
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Confusion or decreased consciousness
  • Persistent high fever
  • Other new symptoms during or after treatment


Prompt treatment of abdominal and other infections may reduce the risk of developing a liver abscess. Many cases are not preventable.

Alternative Names

Liver abscess; Bacterial liver abscess

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