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Am J Gastroenterol. 1997 Dec;92(12):2257-9.

Clinical and microbiological features of liver abscess after transarterial embolization for hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei.



To present the clinical and microbiological features of liver abscess after transarterial embolization (TAE) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


We retrospectively reviewed records of 452 TAE procedures in 289 patients with HCC over a 2-yr period.


Four men and one woman with a mean age of 68.4 yr were diagnosed with liver abscess 1-8 wk (mean 4.6 wk) after the embolization. The incidence was 1.1% (5/452). Common symptoms included fever, chills, and right upper quadrant pain. Serum aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and gamma-glutamyltransferase levels and leukocyte count were frequently elevated. All the abscesses appeared as areas of hypodensity on CT scan and hypoechogenicity on ultrasonogram. The areas contained gas in the embolized tumor, which led to the suspicion and finally the diagnosis of abscess. In contrast to predominance of gram-negative aerobes in sporadic pyogenic liver abscesses, the causative microorganism was predominantly gram positive (60%). All patients were treated with parenteral antibiotics plus percutaneous aspiration, drainage, or operation, but one patient died from the abscess.


For patients receiving TAE for HCC, few specific clinical or radiological features could readily differentiate patients complicated with liver abscess from those without. This may delay a timely diagnosis and lead to significant morbidity. Hence, in patients with risk factors, including old age, previous biliary tract disease, large tumor size (>5 cm), and gas forming in the embolized tumor, aspiration of the suspected focal hepatic lesion should be performed as soon as possible.

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