Left-sided liver abscess in childhood.
Moore SW., Lakhoo K., Millar AJ., Cywes S.
Abscesses occur less frequently on the left side of the liver than on the right, and are implicated in a higher incidence of complications. Of a total of 124 children with liver abscesses seen at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital from 1974 to 1990, 26 had left-sided and 98 right-sided lesions. A similar spectrum of organisms was cultured, and 20 (77%) of the left-sided abscesses were found to be caused by pyogenic organisms as opposed to 78 (79%) of those on the right. The remainder were of amoebic origin. In 5 patients with multiple abscesses involving predominantly the left side of the liver, the right side was also involved. These were excluded from further comparison of left and right liver abscesses. Of the remainder, 16 (62%) left-sided and 77 (83%) right-sided abscesses were solitary. Clinical features were similar in both groups but epigastric mass was more frequent in left-sided lesions. After an initially conservative management policy, surgical drainage was necessary in 87.5% of solitary left-sided liver abscesses as opposed to 64% of solitary right-sided abscesses. No intrapericardial ruptures were noted, but 2 pericardial effusions required drainage. There was no mortality but 3 patients with solitary left-sided abscesses ruptured. The important role of ultrasound in the diagnosis and follow-up period is stressed. Patients with solitary left-sided abscesses are identified as being at risk. Abscess drainage is recommended in this group.