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Transplantation. 2003 Jan 15;75(1):79-83.

Hepatic abscess after liver transplantation: 1990-2000.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Disease, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH, USA.



Infections following solid-organ transplants are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Few studies have reported the complications of hepatic abscesses.


This investigation consisted of a retrospective chart review of all solid-organ transplant recipients from 1990 to 2000. Criteria for diagnosis included parenchymal hepatic lesions, positive cultures from liver aspirates or blood cultures, or both, and a compatible clinical presentation.


Of 2,175 recipients of all organ transplants (heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas), we identified 12 patients who had experienced 14 episodes of hepatic abscess, all in liver transplant recipients. Median time from transplant to hepatic abscess was 386 days (range 25-4,198). The most common predisposing factor was hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT), which occurred in eight patients, and was diagnosed at an average of 249 days (range 33-3,215) after transplantation. Clinical presentation of hepatic abscess was similar to that described in non-immunosuppressed patients. All but one patient showed hypoalbuminemia (<3.5 g/dL); those with HAT also had significantly elevated lactate dehydrogenase. Liver aspirates grew gram-positive aerobic bacteria (50% of isolates), gram-negative aerobic bacteria (30%), and anaerobes and yeasts (10% each). Patients received an average of 6 weeks of intravenous antibiotic therapy. Catheter drainage was successful in 70% of cases; and five patients required retransplantation. Altogether, five of the patients died, yielding a mortality rate of 42%.


Hepatic abscess, a rare complication after liver transplantation, was frequently associated with hepatic artery thrombosis. Mortality was higher than in patients who had not undergone transplantation. Prolonged antibiotic therapy, drainage, and even retransplantation may be required to improve the outcome in these patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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