What causes a liver abscess?

Anyone can get a liver abscess. The condition can be caused by infections in the blood, gastrointestinal system, or abdomen. It can also be caused by injury from a surgical procedure or other trauma to the liver.

Infectious causes of a liver abscess

Liver abscess may result from the following infectious causes:

  • Bacterial infection in the bile-draining tubes
  • Bacterial infections in the abdomen associated with appendicitis, diverticulitis, or perforated bowel
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Entamoeba histolytica infection (organism that also causes amebic dysentery; may be spread through water or through person-to-person contact)

Traumatic causes of a liver abscess

Liver abscess may result from surgical and diagnostic procedures in the liver, as well as accidental trauma including:

  • Endoscopy of the bile-draining tubes
  • Trauma to the liver

What are the risk factors for a liver abscess?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing liver abscess. Not all people with risk factors will get liver abscess.

Risk factors for pyogenic liver abscess include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Current, primary abdominal or gastrointestinal infection
  • Diabetes
  • Recent abdominal surgery
  • Recent endoscopy of the bile-draining tubes

Risk factors for amebic liver abscess include:

  • Advanced age
  • Alcoholism or heavy alcohol ingestion
  • Compromised immune system due to such conditions as HIV/AIDS or other immunodeficiencies, taking corticosteroids, organ transplant, or cancer and cancer treatment
  • Poor nutritional status
  • Travel to regions where amebic infections are common

Reducing your risk of liver abscess

It is not always possible to avoid liver abscess. However, in many cases, you may be able to lower your risk of liver abscess by:

  • Avoiding contaminated food or water
  • Limiting travel in regions where amebic infections are common


What is a liver abscess?

Liver abscess is a pus-filled cyst in the liver. The liver is an organ in the digestive system that assists the digestive process and carries out many other essential functions. These functions include producing bile to help break down food into energy; creating essential substances, such as hormones; cleaning toxins from the blood, including those from medication, alcohol and drugs; and contro... Read more about liver abscessintroduction


What are the symptoms of a liver abscess?

Symptoms of liver abscess vary among individuals but most commonly include a combination of the symptoms listed below. In itself, a liver abscess is not life threatening, but it can become dangerous if it opens and spreads the infection. This can happen suddenly, so you should consult your health care provider if you have any of the following symptoms.

Common symptoms of a liv... Read more about liver abscesssymptoms


How is a liver abscess treated?

Liver abscess is treated with both medications and surgical drainage. If you have amebic liver abscess, after the liver infection is cured, you will probably be prescribed another drug to kill any amebas remaining in the intestines so as to prevent recurrence of the abscess.

Surgical treatment of liver abscess is necessary in many cases to drain the abscess with a needle or small ... Read more about liver abscesstreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System

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