Amebic and pyogenic hepatic abscesses are rare liver lesions that may require surgical intervention. Amebic liver abscesses are more common in subtropical and tropical climates and in areas with poor sanitation. The majority of pyogenic liver abscesses are caused by infections in the biliary or intestinal tracts. These lesions can be differentiated on clinical grounds and by amebic serology. Ultrasound and computed tomography are the imaging techniques of choice. The initial management of amebic hepatic abscesses is treatment with amebicidal agents. Most patients respond rapidly so that surgery is reserved for patients with complications including secondary bacterial infection, impending rupture, or rupture into the pericardium or peritoneum. Patients with pyogenic hepatic abscesses require a prolonged course of antibiotics and appropriate drainage. Selected solitary abscesses can be managed with percutaneous abscess drainage. Similarly, some abscesses of biliary origin will respond to percutaneous biliary drainage. Surgical drainage has several advantages including: the ability to explore the abdomen for a source, excellent exposure of the entire liver, accurate assessment, sometimes with ultrasound, of the best drainage site, and access to the biliary tree for cholangiography and drainage.
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