Rare Presentation of Isolated Spontaneous Bacterial Empyema without Concomitant Ascites in a Patient with Cirrhosis

Anbu Krithigha Dharmalingam, Viswanathan Pandurangan, Srinivasan Ramadurai, Preetam Arthur, Suja Lakshmanan, Aiswarya M Nair


In decompensated cirrhosis, massive ascites and pleural effusion (hepatic hydrothorax) can be complicated by infection, which manifests either as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) or spontaneous bacterial empyema (SBE). SBE is a distinct and often underdiagnosed complication having different pathogenesis and treatment strategy when compared with parapneumonic empyema. Hepatic hydrothorax in the absence of ascites is rare in patients with cirrhosis. The occurrence of SBE without SBP or ascites is even more of a rarity in cirrhosis and carries great morbidity and mortality. Here we report a case of an elderly female patient with cirrhosis (Child Pugh Class B) who had unusual features of isolated right-sided hepatic hydrothorax without clinically evident ascites and was later diagnosed as having SBE based on imaging of the thorax, pleural fluid analysis, and cultures. The patient was initially treated conservatively with antibiotics, and diuretics, and later pigtail insertion and drainage was done.


Hepatic hydrothorax; Spontaneous bacterial empyema; Cirrhosis; liver

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