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Clinical Observation
June 22, 1998

What Appears to Be Cancer

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Arizona, Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson.

Arch Intern Med. 1998;158(12):1374-1377. doi:10.1001/archinte.158.12.1374

We describe a case of multiple hepatic pyogenic abscesses with an unusual presentation. The typical signs and symptoms of fever and pain in the right upper quadrant were absent. Instead, the chief complaint was muscle weakness and myalgias accompanied by weight loss. Findings from an ultrasonogram of the abdomen revealed multiple hepatic lesions consistent with metastases. Hence, the initial presumptive diagnosis was metastatic malignancy with unknown primary tumor. It was only when purulent material was unexpectedly encountered when a needle biopsy was performed that the true diagnosis of pyogenic liver abscess was recognized. While liver abscess is rare, it should not be forgotten in the differential diagnosis for multiple hepatic lesions seen on imaging studies.