Worldwide, amoebic liver abscess (ALA) can be found in individuals in non-endemic areas, especially in foreign-born travelers.
We performed a retrospective analysis of ALA in patients admitted to French hospitals between 2002 and 2006. We compared imported ALA cases in European and foreign-born patients and assessed the factors associated with abscess size using a logistic regression model.
We investigated 90 ALA cases. Patient median age was 41. The male:female ratio was 3.5∶1. We were able to determine the origin for 75 patients: 38 were European-born and 37 foreign-born. With respect to clinical characteristics, no significant difference was observed between European and foreign-born patients except a longer lag time between the return to France after traveling abroad and the onset of symptoms for foreign-born. Factors associated with an abscess size of more than 69 mm were being male (OR = 11.25, p<0.01), aged more than 41 years old (OR = 3.63, p = 0.02) and being an immigrant (OR = 11.56, p = 0.03). Percutaneous aspiration was not based on initial abscess size but was carried out significantly more often on patients who were admitted to surgical units (OR = 10, p<0.01). The median time to abscess disappearance for 24 ALA was 7.5 months.
In this study on imported ALA was one of the largest worldwide in terms of the number of cases included males, older patients and foreign-born patients presented with larger abscesses, suggesting that hormonal and immunological factors may be involved in ALA physiopathology. The long lag time before developing ALA after returning to a non-endemic area must be highlighted to clinicians so that they will consider Entamoeba histolytica as a possible pathogen of liver abscesses more often.
Amœbiasis is caused by Entamoeba histolytica (E. histolytica), a protozoan specific to humans which infects humans by ingestion of contaminated food and water. According to some authors, amœbiasis could be the second leading cause of death from parasitic disease worldwide. It is endemic in tropical countries but can also be diagnosed in industrialized countries, essentially in travelers. One of its main clinical manifestations is amoebic liver abscess (ALA). Abscess can be medically treated by metronidazole, but percutaneous aspiration of the abscess is sometimes performed. Few studies have been performed so far regarding the existence of cases of ALA in the industrialized world. The results of our study reported the existence of 90 cases of imported ALA in France which should raise interest among physicians as well as tourists traveling to endemic areas. Male adults and foreign-born patients presented larger abscesses, suggesting that hormonal and immunological factors could be involved in ALA physiopathology. Foreign-born patients had a longer lag time between the return to France after traveling abroad and the onset of symptoms than European-born ones. This must be highlighted to clinicians who should think about this diagnostic even if a recent travel in a tropical area is not notified by patients.