Clinical syndromes associated with Entamoeba histolytica infection include noninvasive intestinal infection, intestinal amebiasis, ameboma, and liver abscess. Disease is more severe in the very young, the elderly, and pregnant women. Patients with noninvasive intestinal infection may be asymptomatic or may have nonspecific intestinal tract complaints. People with intestinal amebiasis (amebic colitis) generally have 1 to 3 weeks of increasingly severe diarrhea progressing to grossly bloody dysenteric stools with lower abdominal pain and tenesmus. Weight loss is common, but fever occurs only in a minority of patients (8%-38%). Symptoms may be chronic and may mimic inflammatory bowel disease. Progressive involvement of the colon may produce toxic megacolon, fulminant colitis, ulceration of the colon and perianal area, and rarely, perforation. Progression may occur in patients inappropriately treated with corticosteroids or antimotility drugs. An ameboma may occur as an annular lesion of the cecum or ascending colon that may be mistaken for colonic carcinoma or as a tender extrahepatic mass mimicking a pyogenic abscess. Amebomas usually resolve with antiamebic therapy and do not require surgery.
In a small proportion of patients, extraintestinal disease may occur. Although the liver is the most common extraintestinal site, the lungs, pleural space, pericardium, brain, skin, and genitourinary tract also may be involved. Liver abscess may be acute, with fever, abdominal pain, tachypnea, liver tenderness, and hepatomegaly; or chronic, with weight loss, vague abdominal symptoms, and irritability. Rupture of abscesses into the abdomen or chest may lead to death. Evidence of recent intestinal infection usually is absent.
Amebiasis is a sample topic found in
To find other Red Book topics