A retrospective study was conducted of all 31 patients with liver abscess admitted to Shaare Zedek Medical Center between 1979, the year computed tomographic scan and ultrasound were introduced, and 1992. Fever and abdominal pain were the most common symptoms. Duration of symptoms was short: 81% of patients had symptoms for < or = 5 days and none had symptoms for more than 3 weeks. Amoebic abscess was found in one patient only, the remainder were pyogenic. Biliary tract pathology remains the most common cause of liver abscess (39%). The diagnosis was made by ultrasound in 22/31 (71%) and by computed tomographic scan in 9/31 (29%) of patients. Treatment consisted of intravenous antibiotics and percutaneous drainage under ultrasound guidance in 24/31 patients (77%). Four patients died (13%), three of whom had underlying malignancies. Clinical features were compared with those from a similar series of 36 cases with liver abscess reported from Jerusalem predating ultrasound and computed tomographic scan (1967-1977). Several major changes have occurred. First, the relative incidence of amoebic abscess has dramatically decreased. Second, ultrasound and computed tomographic scan have facilitated earlier diagnosis and percutaneous drainage, contributing to improved survival and lower morbidity.
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