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Am J Emerg Med. 1995 May;13(3):337-43.

Splenic abscess: a diagnostic pitfall in the ED.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, R.O.C.


Splenic abscess, with its rare incidence and various misleading clinical manifestations, usually is a diagnostic pitfall in the modern emergency department. The most frequently seen symptoms and signs are fever, abdominal pain and tenderness over left upper quadrant, splenomegaly, leucocytosis, and left lower chest abnormalities. Four cases were collected during the past five years. On admission, one patient manifested symptoms mimicking a perforated peptic ulcer and the other three patients presented clinical and roentgenographic signs suggestive, but non-specific, for splenic abscess. In two cases, the diagnosis was based on sonography followed by computed tomography (CT). In one case, the splenic abscess was only visualized by CT. They all survived after splenectomy and appropriate antibiotic therapy. Culturing disclosed the offending organisms to be Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a Salmonella species, and Streptococcus viridans. These nonspecific clinical pictures should be thoroughly investigated, and CT, the most sensitive diagnostic tool, should be used whenever splenic abscess is suspected. Early diagnosis and timely treatment reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with splenic abscess.

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