Pyogenic Liver Abscess Following Pancreaticoduodenectomy: Risk Factors, Treatment, and Long-Term Outcome

Victor C. Njoku, Thomas J. Howard, Changyu Shen, Nicholas J. Zyromski, C. Max Schmidt, Henry A. Pitt, Attila Nakeeb, Keith D. Lillemoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) remains a challenging operation with a 40 % postoperative complication rate. Pyogenic liver abscess (PLA) is an uncommon complication following PD with little information on its incidence or treatment. This study was done to examine the incidence, risk factors, treatment, and long-term outcome of PLA after PD. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 1,189 patients undergoing PD (N = 839) or distal pancreatectomy (DP) (N = 350) at a single institution over a 14-year period (January 1, 1994-January 1, 2008). Pancreatic databases (PD and DP) were queried for postoperative complications and cross-checked through a hospital-wide database using ICD-9 codes 572.0 (PLA) and 006.3 (amebic liver abscess) as primary or secondary diagnoses. No PLA occurred following DP. Twenty-two patients (2.6 %) developed PLA following PD. These 22 patients were matched (1:3) for age, gender, year of operation, and indication for surgery with 66 patients without PLA following PD. Results: PLA occurred in 2.6 % (22/839) of patients following PD, with 13 patients (59.1 %) having a solitary abscess and 9 (40.9 %) multiple abscesses. Treatment involved antibiotics and percutaneous drainage (N = 15, 68.2 %) or antibiotics alone (N = 7, 31.8 %) with a mean hospital stay of 12 days. No patient required surgical drainage, two abscesses recurred, and all subsequently resolved. Three patients (14 %) died related to PLA. Postoperatively, patients with biliary fistula (13.6 vs. 0 %, p = 0.014) or who required reoperation (18.2 vs. 1.5 %, p = 0.013) had a significantly higher rate of PLA than matched controls. Long-term follow-up showed equivalent 1-year (79 vs.74 %), 2-year (50 vs. 57 %), and 3-year (38 vs. 33 %) survival rates and hepatic function between patients with PLA and matched controls. Conclusions: Postoperative biliary fistula and need for reoperation are risk factors for PLA following PD. Antibiotics and selective percutaneous drainage was effective in 86 % of patients with no adverse effects on long-term hepatic function or survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)922-928
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Complications
  • Pancreas
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy
  • Pyogenic liver abscess
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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