23rd February 2018, Volume 131 Number 1470

Kareem Osman, Sanket Srinivasa, Jonathan Koea

Liver abscess is an important condition that presents acutely to surgical and medical services in both district and metropolitan hospitals. Historically it was described as occurring in comorbid, immunocompromised patients…

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Liver abscesses are a common acute condition that affect previously healthy patients. Percutaneous rather than surgical drainage is the standard of care but hospital stays can be significant and readmission is common.



Historically, liver abscesses (LA) affected elderly, immunocompromised patients and were characterised by high morbidity and mortality, however there are no data pertaining to a New Zealand population with little information surrounding recent management trends.


A retrospective review of demographic characteristics, clinical management and microbiological data on patients presenting with liver abscess between 2005–2014 was conducted.


Fifty-seven patients [37 males, median age 64 (range 15–87)] presented with LA and most patients were not comorbid. Ethnicity included European (47%), Chinese (16%) and Pacific Island (11%). Twenty-six patients had primary abscesses, 31 patients had secondary abscesses [biliary disease, appendicitis, diverticular disease]. Presenting symptoms were non-specific. Admission white cell count was raised in 50 (88%) of patients and 43 (75%) had a CRP≥200mg/L. All patients were investigated with CT scan with 34 LA located in the right lobe, 14 in the left and eight bi-lobar. Klebsiella pneumoniae was the commonest pathogen (26% of aspirates). Percutaneous drainage (PD) was used to treat 36 of 37 patients, 17 patients were treated with intravenous antibiotics alone and three patients required open drainage for loculated collections despite PD (n=1), intra-peritoneal rupture or sepsis (n=2). Thirteen patients were readmitted within 30 days for ongoing symptoms requiring intravenous antibiotics/further PD (9) or further investigations (4). The median PD duration was 10 days (range 3–53). Twenty-six patients required follow-up imaging over one month with 16 requiring follow-up over six weeks.


In a New Zealand setting, LA affect fit patients, and primary abscesses account for almost half of all presentation. PD is effective treatment in most LA although prolonged drainage and treatment with antibiotics may be necessary.

Author Information

Kareem Osman, Surgery, North Shore Hospital, Auckland; Sanket Srinivasa, Surgery, North Shore Hospital, Auckland; Jonathan Koea, North Shore Hospital, Auckland.


Dr Jonathan Koea, North Shore Hospital, Waitemata District Health Board, Shea Tce, Takapuna, Auckland 0632.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



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