The triad of Streptococcus bovis bacteremia, colonic pathology, and liver disease

Beth Ann Zarkin, Keith D. Lillemoe, John L. Cameron, Philip N. Effron, Thomas H. Magnuson, Henry A. Pitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The association of Streptococcus bovis endocarditis and colon carcinoma has been reported previously in small series in the medical, but not surgical, literature. Although the fecal carriage rate of S. bovis increases with colonic pathology, no explanation exists for the development of bacteremia in these cases. To explore the possible contribution of hepatic dysfunction to the development of portal and systemic bacteremia, the incidence of both colonic pathology and liver disease or dysfunction was determined in 92 patients with S. bovis endocarditis and/or bacteremia. Colonic and liver evaluation had been undertaken in 47% and 93% of patients, respectively. Among these patients, colonic pathology was identified in 51%, and liver disease or dysfunction was documented in 56%. Either the underlying colonic disease or alterations in hepatic secretion of bile salts or immunoglobulins may promote the overgrowth of S. bovis and its translocation from the intestinal lumen into the portal venous system. A compromised hepatic reticuloendothelial system may then contribute to the development of S. bovis septicemia and subsequent endocarditis. We conclude that S. bovis bacteremia is an indication to the clinician of the possibility of underlying liver disease as well as colon pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-791
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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