¿Aún no está registrado?
Información relevante

Consulte los artículos y contenidos publicados en éste medio, además de los e-sumarios de las revistas científicas en el mismo momento de publicación

Máxima actualización

Esté informado en todo momento gracias a las alertas y novedades

Promociones exclusivas

Acceda a promociones exclusivas en suscripciones, lanzamientos y cursos acreditados

Crear Mi cuenta
Buscar en
Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica (English Edition)
Toda la web
Inicio Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica (English Edition) An unusual cause of a gas-forming liver abscess
Journal Information
Vol. 35. Num. 10.December 2017
Pages 613-686
Vol. 35. Num. 10.December 2017
Pages 613-686
Diagnosis at first sight
DOI: 10.1016/j.eimce.2017.11.005
Full text access
An unusual cause of a gas-forming liver abscess
Una causa infrecuente de absceso hepático gaseoso
María Desirée Armas Ojedaa,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Cristina Roque Castellanoa, Guillermo Hernández Vicenteb, Ana Bordes Benítezc
a Servicio de Cirugía General y del Aparato Digestivo, Hospital Universitario de Gran Canaria Doctor Negrín, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
b Servicio de Radiodiagnóstico, Hospital Universitario de Gran Canaria Doctor Negrín, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
c Servicio de Microbiología, Hospital Universitario de Gran Canaria Doctor Negrín, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
This item has received
Article information
Full Text
Download PDF
Figures (3)
Show moreShow less
Full Text
Case report

A 63-year-old woman, with no relevant medical history, came to Accident and Emergency with a one-week history of right upper quadrant abdominal pain, fever and asthenia. On arrival, she was haemodynamically stable, with pallor of her skin and mucous membranes, and her abdomen was distended, tympanic and painful in the right upper quadrant, with localised guarding. Blood test showed: 16,770leucocytes/μl (91% neutrophils); haemoglobin 10g/dl; and raised lactic acid levels (5.66mmol/l). Abdominal CT scan revealed a sigmoid neoplasm with locoregional adenopathic conglomerate and multiple large bilobar liver metastases. The largest of these had air bubbles inside, compatible with a necrotic and infected metastatic lesion, with pneumoperitoneum around it as a result of it having ruptured (Figs. 1–3).

Fig. 1.

CT scan of abdomen (coronal oblique plane) with intravenous contrast. Necrotic and abscessed liver metastases (continuous arrow with solid head) complicated by pneumoperitoneum (dotted arrow) and associated with neoplasm-related thickening in sigmoid colon (continuous arrow with open head).

Fig. 2.

CT scan of abdomen (axial plane) with intravenous contrast. Multiple metastatic liver lesions (dotted arrow), one of them abscessed with gas inside (continuous arrow).

Fig. 3.

CT scan of pelvis (axial plane) with intravenous contrast. Thickening of wall with appearance suggestive of neoplasm in sigmoid colon with infiltration of mesenteric fat (white arrow).


In view of the clinical and radiological findings, it was decided to start empirical treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics (piperacillin-tazobactam plus metronidazole) combined with ultrasound-guided percutaneous drainage of the gas-forming abscess. A sample of the abscess was sent for microbiological testing. After initially making clinical improvement, at 48h the patient developed refractory septic shock, and she died seven days after her admission to hospital. Microscopic examination of the Gram-stained abscess revealed the presence of polymorphonuclear leukocytes associated with sporulated Gram-positive bacilli. After anaerobic culture of the sample, C. septicum was isolated, sensitive to penicillin, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, imipenem, clindamycin and metronidazole. The post-mortem examination confirmed the existence of a stage IVa infiltrating adenocarcinoma of the sigmoid colon.


Gas-forming liver abscesses account for 7–24% of pyogenic liver abscesses. Although usually caused by gas-producing fermenting bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae or Escherichia coli,1Clostridium septicum has been identified as a cause of gas-forming liver abscesses in metastatic colon cancer,2–5 breast cancer6 and choriocarcinoma.7

C. septicum infection is rare, being responsible for 1.3% of Clostridium infections.8 There is a great deal of variation in the way it presents, from simple contamination of a wound to fulminant septic processes such as gas gangrene, muscle necrosis or abscesses in solid organs.9 It has been associated with haematological diseases, immunosuppressive states, diabetes and gastrointestinal malignancies, often hidden, as in our case.8 The bacteria access the bloodstream through small ulcerations in the mucosa of the bowel or neoplasm wall. Its significant pathogenicity, with destruction of tissues and alteration of capillary permeability, is mediated by potent toxins and enzymes, especially alpha-toxin.9 Large metastases or necrotic liver tissue provide the ideal medium for its growth, without affecting healthy liver tissue.

It is uncommon for pyogenic hepatic abscesses to burst. In a series of 424 patients, Chou et al. report a rupture rate of 5.4%.10 If the abscess contains gas, it can cause pneumoperitoneum without associated hollow viscus perforation, but this is also uncommon.2,5 As in the case described by Sucandy et al., our patient started with pneumoperitoneum as the first clinical manifestation of her disease.5 The characteristic image of gas-forming abscess in liver metastases from colon cancer led us to diagnose suspected C. septicum infection, which was confirmed after isolation of the bacteria in the abscess sample. Apart from treatment solely with broad-spectrum antibiotics,6 cases of management with percutaneous drainage2–4 or debridement of the abscess have been described in the case of laparotomy as a result of complication of the primary tumour.3,5

In our case, the abdominal CT scan did not show complications related to the primary tumour. Therefore, with the advanced nature of the underlying disease, we chose antibiotic treatment and percutaneous drainage. The patient initially made good progress, but after 48h her condition suddenly deteriorated.

In conclusion, C. septicum infection should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a gas-forming liver abscess in the context of a patient with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the colon, as, although rare, it is associated with a high mortality rate.

H.L. Lee, H.C. Lee, H.R. Guo, W.C. Ko, K.W. Chen
Clinical significance and mechanism of gas formation of pyogenic liver abscess due to Klebsiella pneumoniae
J Clin Microbiol, 42 (2004), pp. 2783-2785
B.A. Urban, R. McCormick, E.K. Fishman, K.D. Lillemoe, B.G. Petty
Fulminant Clostridium septicum infection of hepatic metastases presenting as pneumoperitoneum
Am J Roentgenol, 174 (2000), pp. 962-964
J.M. Sarmiento, M.G. Sarr
Necrotic infected liver metastasis from colon cancer
Surgery, 132 (2002), pp. 110-111
J.E. Kurtz, L. Claudel, O. Collard, J.M. Limacher, J.P. Bergerat, P. Dufour
Liver abscess due to Clostridium septicum. A case report and review of the literature
Hepatogastroenterology, 52 (2005), pp. 1557-1558
I. Sucandy, S. Gallagher, R.K. Josloff, M.L. Nussbaum
Severe clostridium infection of liver metastases presenting as pneumoperitoneum
Am Surg, 78 (2012), pp. E338-E339
M.C. Thel, D. Ciaccia, J.J. Vredenburgh, W. Peters, G.R. Corey
Clostridium septicum abscess in hepatic metastases: successful medical management
Bone Marrow Transpl, 13 (1994), pp. 495-496
C.H. Lee, S.Y. Hsieh
Case report: Clostridium septicum infection presenting as liver abscess in a case of choriocarcinoma with liver metastasis
J Gastroenterol Hepatol, 14 (1999), pp. 1227-1229
A.A. Kornbluth, J.B. Danzig, L.H. Bernstein
Clostridium septicum infection and associated malignancy. Report of 2 cases and review of the literature
Medicine (Baltimore), 68 (1989), pp. 30-37
M.E. Kolbeinsson, W.D. Holder Jr., S. Aziz
Recognition, management, and prevention of Clostridium septicum abscess in immunosuppressed patients
Arch Surg, 126 (1991), pp. 642-645
F.F. Chou, S.M. Sheen-Chen, T.Y. Lee
Rupture of pyogenic liver abscess
Am J Gastroenterol, 90 (1995), pp. 767-770

Please cite this article as: Armas Ojeda MD, Roque Castellano C, Hernández Vicente G, Bordes Benítez A. Una causa infrecuente de absceso hepático gaseoso. Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin. 2017;35:678–679.

Copyright © 2016. Elsevier España, S.L.U. and Sociedad Española de Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica
es en pt
Política de cookies Cookies policy Política de cookies
Utilizamos cookies propias y de terceros para mejorar nuestros servicios y mostrarle publicidad relacionada con sus preferencias mediante el análisis de sus hábitos de navegación. Si continua navegando, consideramos que acepta su uso. Puede cambiar la configuración u obtener más información aquí. To improve our services and products, we use "cookies" (own or third parties authorized) to show advertising related to client preferences through the analyses of navigation customer behavior. Continuing navigation will be considered as acceptance of this use. You can change the settings or obtain more information by clicking here. Utilizamos cookies próprios e de terceiros para melhorar nossos serviços e mostrar publicidade relacionada às suas preferências, analisando seus hábitos de navegação. Se continuar a navegar, consideramos que aceita o seu uso. Você pode alterar a configuração ou obter mais informações aqui.
es en pt

¿Es usted profesional sanitario apto para prescribir o dispensar medicamentos?

Are you a health professional able to prescribe or dispense drugs?

Você é um profissional de saúde habilitado a prescrever ou dispensar medicamentos