Amoebic liver abscess differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1];Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Yamuna Kondapally, M.B.B.S[2]


Amoebic liver abscess must be differentiated from other diseases that cause fever, abdominal pain, cough, jaundice, hepatomegaly, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and pale or dark stools such as pyogenic liver abscess, fungal liver abscess, echinococcal cyst, and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Differential Diagnosis

Amoebic liver abscess must be differentiated from:[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

Disease Causes Signs and Symptoms Laboratory Findings Imaging Findings Other Findings
Fever Pain cough Hepatomegaly Jaundice Weight loss Anorexia Diarrhoea

or Dysentry

Nausea and


Abdominal pain

(right upper quadrant pain)

Pleuritic pain
Amoebic liver abscess Entamoeba histolytica +++ +++ +/- + ++/- +

(late stages)


(late stages)

+ + + Hypoalbuminemia


Pyogenic liver abscess Bacteria + + ++ ++ +/- +++ +

(acute loss)

+ + Pale/dark Hypoalbuminemia


Cluster sign
  • CT scan shows cluster sign
  • Aggregation of multiple low attenuation liver lesions in a localized area to form a solitary larger abscess cavity
  • Abnormal pulmonary findings
  • Diabetes mellitus increases the risk
  • Medical-surgical approach is indicated
  • More common in developed countries
  • Culture positive and seronegative
  • Both lobes are commonly involved
Fungal liver abscess Candida species
Aspergillus species
+ + +- + + + + + + + CT and USG findings with four patterns of presentation:
  • Wheel-within-a-wheel pattern
  • Bull’s-eye configuration pattern
  • Uniformly hypoechoic nodule
  • Echogenic foci with variable degrees of posterior acoustic shadowing
Echinococcal (hydatid) cyst Echinococcus granulosus + + +

(Obstructive jaundice)

+ + Histology: Hydatid cyst with three layers

a.The outer pericyst, which corresponds with compressed and fibrosed liver tissue

b.The endocyst, an inner germinal layer

c.The ectocyst, a thin, translucent interleaved membrane

  • Blood or liquid from the ruptured cyst may be coughed up
  • Pruritis

(Hepatocellular carcinoma/Metastasis)

+ +


+ + ++ ++ Pale/Chalky Other symptoms:


  1. Lodhi S, Sarwari AR, Muzammil M, Salam A, Smego RA (2004). "Features distinguishing amoebic from pyogenic liver abscess: a review of 577 adult cases". Trop Med Int Health. 9 (6): 718–23. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2004.01246.x. PMID 15189463.
  2. Barbour GL, Juniper K (1972). "A clinical comparison of amebic and pyogenic abscess of the liver in sixty-six patients". Am J Med. 53 (3): 323–34. PMID 5054724.
  3. Barnes PF, De Cock KM, Reynolds TN, Ralls PW (1987). "A comparison of amebic and pyogenic abscess of the liver". Medicine (Baltimore). 66 (6): 472–83. PMID 3316923.
  4. Conter RL, Pitt HA, Tompkins RK, Longmire WP (1986). "Differentiation of pyogenic from amebic hepatic abscesses". Surg Gynecol Obstet. 162 (2): 114–20. PMID 3945889.
  5. Lipsett PA, Huang CJ, Lillemoe KD, Cameron JL, Pitt HA (1997). "Fungal hepatic abscesses: Characterization and management". J Gastrointest Surg. 1 (1): 78–84. PMID 9834333.
  6. Pastakia B, Shawker TH, Thaler M, O'Leary T, Pizzo PA (1988). "Hepatosplenic candidiasis: wheels within wheels". Radiology. 166 (2): 417–21. doi:10.1148/radiology.166.2.3275982. PMID 3275982.
  7. Mortelé KJ, Ros PR (2001). "Cystic focal liver lesions in the adult: differential CT and MR imaging features". Radiographics. 21 (4): 895–910. doi:10.1148/radiographics.21.4.g01jl16895. PMID 11452064.
  8. Suwan Z (1995). "Sonographic findings in hydatid disease of the liver: comparison with other imaging methods". Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 89 (3): 261–9. PMID 7668917.
  9. Esfahani F, Rooholamini SA, Vessal K (1988). "Ultrasonography of hepatic hydatid cysts: new diagnostic signs". J Ultrasound Med. 7 (8): 443–50. PMID 3047423.
  10. Niron EA, Ozer H (1981). "Ultrasound appearances of liver hydatid disease". Br J Radiol. 54 (640): 335–8. doi:10.1259/0007-1285-54-640-335. PMID 7225721.