Patterns of hepatosplenic brucella abscesses on cross-sectional imaging: A review of clinical and imaging features

Tom Heller, Sabine Bélard, Claudia Wallrauch, Edoardo Carretto, Raffaella Lissandrin, Carlo Filice, Enrico Brunetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While diffuse involvement of liver and spleen is frequently seen in brucellosis, suppurative abscesses caused by Brucella are less common but well described. With the increased availability of cross-sectional imaging techniques, reports have become more frequent. Four patients with hepatosplenic abscesses caused by Brucella spp. are described and included in a review of 115 previously published cases. Clinical characteristics and patterns on ultrasound (US) and computed tomography imaging were analyzed. Furthermore, the proportion of patients with brucellosis affected by suppurative hepatosplenic lesions was estimated. Hepatosplenic abscesses were seen in 1.2% of patients with brucellosis and were mostly caused by Brucella melitensis. Imaging analysis revealed two main distinct patterns. Solitary abscesses involving liver more frequently than spleen, and showing characteristic central calcifications, characterize the first pattern. Multiple smaller abscesses, frequent spleen involvement, and absence of calcifications characterize the second pattern. Blood and aspirate cultures were frequently negative, however, the positivity rate increased over the past years. Indirect Coombs test was positive in 96%. Half of the patients were cured by antibiotic treatment; case fatality in this series was 1.9%. Hepatosplenic abscesses due to Brucella infections have characteristic imaging findings. Clinicians should be aware of these and the proactive use of cross-sectional imaging, particularly US, should be encouraged in endemic regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-766
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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