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Am J Gastroenterol. 1994 Jul;89(7):1090-5.

Liver abscess in Crohn's disease.

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Department of Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York.


Liver abscess is a rare but serious complication of Crohn's disease. Intra-abdominal abscesses, fistulous disease, and metronidazole or steroid therapy have all been reported to be important predisposing factors in the pathogenesis of the disease, and the mortality has been reported to be high. We report six patients who developed a liver abscess as a complication of Crohn's disease. Three patients presented with a liver abscess as the first manifestation of Crohn's disease and two others had quiescent disease at presentation. The diagnosis was delayed by 1-8 wk after the onset of fever because of the paucity of signs indicating a hepatic infection. None of the patients had intra-abdominal abscesses, active fistulas, or metronidazole therapy before the onset of symptoms. The only predisposing conditions identified were two minor skin infections in patients developing staphylococcal liver abscesses. Nonoperative catheter drainage was successful in four of the six patients. One patient required surgical placement of drains, and the patient with the longest delay before diagnosis required hepatic lobectomy because of extensive necrosis. Shaking chills, fever with leukocytosis, and an elevated alkaline phosphatase are suggestive of a liver abscess and should prompt an ultrasound examination. Catheter drainage with antibiotic therapy is effective if the liver abscess is diagnosed before extensive necrosis has occurred. Minor skin infections may predispose to staphylococcal liver abscess in some cases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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