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Liver abscesses

Hepatic abscesses

Liver abscesses are pus-filled sacs containing blood, dead cells and germs that develop after infections in the body.

About

An abscess contains pus, a thick fluid of white blood cells, dead tissue and bacteria. Liver abscesses may be caused by a bacterial infection associated with malignancy, surgery, trauma or other diseases such as diabetes. They may also result from parasitic or fungal organisms. In developed countries, pyogenic liver abscesses are the most common.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of liver abscesses icon plus

    The inflammation and swelling that indicates a liver abscess may cause pain on the right upper part of your abdomen. This could impact your breathing too, sometimes causing a dry cough and pain when you take a deep breath in. As a liver abscess is often caused by bacterial infection, you may also notice symptoms such as: - fever with night sweats and shaking chills - feeling unwell - loss of appetite and even anorexia - weight loss - nausea and vomiting - jaundice, although usually at a later stage
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    To confirm a diagnosis of liver abscess, your consultant may recommend blood tests and an analysis of small amounts of fluid from inside the abscess, taken out using ultrasound guidance. CT or MRI scanning may also be used in combination.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    An untreated liver abscess, like an abscess anywhere in the body, can cause further complications. The first course of action in treating liver abscesses is usually with antibiotics. These may be administered intravenously and often require hospitalisation. Treatment courses usually run for many weeks and repeat scanning may be required to confirm improvement of the abscess. If antibiotics alone are not effective then your consultant may recommend drainage of the abscess. This is often done using a catheter, guided by either ultrasound or CT imaging. In more extreme cases, for instance where the abscess has ruptured, open surgery may be needed.
Consultant with patient

Our consultants

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • facility-pgh-hero-579x579

    The Princess Grace Hospital

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London W1U 5NY

    Appointments 020 3131 7216
    Enquiries 020 3130 6833

  • Wellington-south-hero-facility-582-582

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

  • facility-HSC-flag-hero-582x582

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London

    W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7034 8181
    Enquiries 020 3131 7962

  • The Lister Hospital Facility

    The Lister Hospital

    Chelsea Bridge Road

    London

    SW1W 8RH

    Appointments 020 7811 4000
    Enquiries 020 3131 4978

  • The Portland Hospital

    The Portland Hospital

    205 - 209 Great Portland Street

    London

    W1W 5AH

    Childrens enquiries 020 3811 4906
    Maternity enquiries 020 3131 5998
    Women's health 020 3811 5137

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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