• Vol. 34 No. 9, 558–564
  • 15 October 2005

Neonatal Hepatic Abscess in Preterm Infants: A Rare Entity



Introduction and Objective: Neonatal pyogenic hepatic abscess in preterm infants is a rare entity. We present 6 cases of neonatal liver abscesses diagnosed in our hospital as well as an approach that will facilitate the early diagnosis and management of neonatal pyogenic liver abscess based on our case series and review of the literature. Materials and Methods: Retrospective review of case records of all 6 patients diagnosed with neonatal liver abscess from January 2000 to December 2002 in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore. Results: All neonates were premature with gestational ages between 24 and 34 weeks. Persistence of positive blood culture despite appropriate antibiotic treatment in 67% of the cases prompted use of hepatobiliary ultrasounds to detect liver abscess. Surgical drainage of liver abscess was performed in 33% of the cases, with the remainder treated conservatively with appropriate intravenous antibiotics. Half of the infants recovered with resolution of their liver abscess on serial hepatobiliary ultrasound. The other half died of fulminant sepsis. Conclusions: Neonatal pyogenic liver abscess, though rare, is associated with good outcome if diagnosed promptly and appropriate treatment instituted. In a preterm infant with sepsis, a high index of suspicion is required if there is persistence of positive blood culture despite appropriate antibiotic treatment, and hepatobiliary ultrasound should be done to detect and monitor neonatal liver abscess.

Liver abscess has been recognised since the time of Hippocrates. The first report on liver abscess was published by Bright in 1836.1 However, reports pertaining to liver abscess in the neonatal period have been published only since the 1930s. Neonatal liver abscess is a rare entity. To our knowledge, fewer than 100 cases have been reported in the literature. We present 6 additional cases and a review of the current literature pertaining to the latest techniques in diagnosis and management of neonatal liver abscess.

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