A Comprehensive Guide to Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome and Its Treatment

November 24, 2023

A Comprehensive Guide to Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome and Its Treatment

Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome (FHCS) is a relatively rare but serious condition that affects the liver and causes abdominal pain. It primarily affects women of reproductive age and is often associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID; prevalence: one-fourth of patients with PID). In this article, we will explore what FHCS is, its causes, symptoms, and available treatment options.

What is Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome?

FHCS or perihepatitis is characterised by inflammation of the liver capsule (the outer covering of the liver). It is most commonly caused by sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea. The bacteria causing the infection can spread from the reproductive organs to the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring.

Causes of Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome

The primary cause of FHCS is PID. PID occurs when bacteria enter the reproductive organs through sexual contact and cause infection. If left untreated or if there are recurrent infections, the bacteria can travel from the reproductive organs to the liver through small channels called lymphatics.

Symptoms of Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome

The most common symptom of FHCS is recurring or chronic right upper quadrant pain. This pain may be accompanied by shoulder pain due to irritation of the diaphragm. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • General malaise.

It's important to note that not all individuals with PID will develop FHCS.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose FHCS, your healthcare provider will perform a thorough physical examination and may order diagnostic tests such as liver function tests, abdominal ultrasound, or laparoscopy.

Treatment options for FHCS may include:

  1. Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the underlying infection causing FHCS.
  2. Pain Management: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  3. Laparoscopic Surgery: In some cases where conservative measures fail to provide relief, laparoscopic surgery may be necessary to remove adhesions or repair damaged tissues.

Preventing Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome

The best way to prevent FHCS is by practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections. Prompt treatment of any pelvic infections is crucial to prevent complications such as PID and subsequent liver involvement.

In conclusion, FHCS can present unique challenges for individuals trying to conceive. Seeking medical advice from a fertility specialist is essential for accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plans. At Apollo Fertility, our experienced team of fertility doctors can provide the support and guidance you need on your fertility journey.


Can men develop Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome?

FHCS primarily affects women due to its association with pelvic inflammatory disease. However, in rare cases, men can also develop this syndrome if they have had a previous pelvic infection.

What are the long-term effects of Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome?

If left untreated, FHCS can lead to chronic liver inflammation and scarring. In severe cases, it may result in liver abscesses or even liver failure. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are key to preventing long-term complications.

How long does it take to recover from Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome?

Recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the infection and promptness of treatment. With appropriate management, most individuals can recover within a few weeks.

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