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Int J Infect Dis. 2008 Nov;12(6):e95-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Sep 2.

Ruptured hepatic abscess mimicking perforated viscus.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.



In the majority of pneumoperitoneum cases we diagnose perforated viscus. We present herein a case of ruptured hepatic abscess mimicking perforated viscus.


A 40-year-old man presented to the emergency room with fever and right upper quadrant abdominal pain. The fever had been on/off for a period of 1 month. On physical examination, diffuse abdominal pain with rebounding tenderness was noted. Blood tests showed leukocytosis with left shift, hyperglycemia, and elevated liver function tests. A chest X-ray showed a subdiaphragmatic region air-fluid level, indicating a hepatic abscess. Pneumoperitoneum was also seen. Owing to the status of peritonitis, computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen was performed and revealed an air-containing liver abscess in the right lobe of the liver. Perforation of a hollow organ was also suspected because of the pneumoperitoneum. An emergent laparotomy was immediately performed for the suspicion of a hollow organ perforation. No perforation of the hollow viscus was found. The ruptured hepatic abscess was attributed to the pneumoperitoneum. A blood culture grew Klebsiella pneumoniae four days later, and the same organism was also found in a surgical specimen culture of the abscess.


For a ruptured hepatic abscess, surgical intervention with draining of the abscess and cleaning of the abdominal cavity are essential to save patient lives.

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