Aims:  This study aimed to analyse the characteristics of adult liver abscess (LA) patients living in rural townships of Taiwan.

Patients and methods:  We retrospectively screened the electronic admission records of a rural community hospital located in north-eastern Taiwan from 1 April, 2002 to 30 April, 2006. Relevant data, including subjects’ basic characteristics, laboratory findings and infectious microorganisms, were extracted.

Results:  Fifty-six subjects (mean age: 66.1 ± 15.9 years; range: 23–94 years) were enrolled; one patient had an amoebic LA and 55 had pyogenic LA. Five subjects died in hospital. Overall, 80.5% of patients complained of having a fever, 87.5% had single abscess, 71.4% had right hepatic lobe involvement and 58.9% underwent invasive drainage. Most subjects (66.1%) did not have diabetes mellitus, 94.6% did not have a hepato-biliary tumour, 73.2% did not have gallstones, 78.6% did not have hepatitis and 87.5% did not have prior hepato-biliary surgery. Klebsiella pneumoniae was the most common infecting microorganism. Previous hepato-biliary surgery and serum creatinine >2.0 mg/dl were significantly more common in patients ≥65 years of age (p = 0.031). Diabetes mellitus was more common in female subjects (p = 0.021). Invasive drainage and single abscess were not significantly correlated to prognosis.

Discussion:  Adult LA patients living in rural north-eastern Taiwan have different characteristics than patients living in urban areas. Geriatric LA patients should be managed cautiously because of the possibility of renal insufficiency or previous hepato-biliary surgery. Female LA patients should be evaluated for the presence of diabetes mellitus.