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Radiology. 1987 Dec;165(3):805-7.

Medical treatment of hepatic amebic abscess: rare need for percutaneous drainage.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.


Although amebic liver abscess can virtually always be successfully treated medically, percutaneous drainage has been advocated recently. In 96 recently treated patients, therapeutic aspiration and percutaneous drainage were rarely needed. Most cases were correctly diagnosed by means of clinical, laboratory, and sonographic findings. Abscesses in only 13 (13.5%) patients were diagnostically aspirated. An abscess in one patient was therapeutically aspirated because the patient was responding slowly to medical therapy. No patient required catheter drainage. The key to successful amebic abscess management is medical therapy. Therapeutic drainage is rarely needed. Successfully treated patients occasionally respond slowly to medical therapy, and successfully treated amebic abscesses may enlarge or become bizarre-appearing on sonograms. This should not prompt therapeutic drainage. Diagnostic aspiration is appropriate when amebic and pyogenic abscesses are indistinguishable using clinical and imaging findings. Rare indications for therapeutic aspiration or drainage include pyogenic superinfection and large, juxtacardiac abscesses (potential intrapericardial rupture).

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