Brain Abscess/Subdural Empyema

Also known as: cerebral abscess, CNS abscess

What is a brain abscess?

Subdural empyema and brain abscess are serious infections of the brain where pus accumulates inside or around the brain, often as a consequence of sinusitis, ear infections, dental caries or even urine infections. These can result in severe headaches, drowsiness or seizures. An urgent intervention is often necessary. Hence a consultation or visit to the emergency room is recommended. 

What causes brain abscess?

 Brain abscesses occur due to an infection with bacteria, fungi or viruses, that spreads from either another close-by part of the body (for example, an ear infection); or through the bloodstream or directly through a penetrating injury to the head.

Children at increased risk for developing a brain abscess include:

  • Those who have a infection of the coverings of the brain (meningitis)

  • Children with a congenital heart defect

  • Chronic ear and sinus infection

  • Teeth and jaw infections

  • The presence of foreign material involving the brain  (like cerebrospinal shunts)

  • Diabetes

  • Children who have congenital or acquired difficulty in fighting infections (immune problems)
     

What are the symptoms of brain abscess? 

In babies and young infants, symptoms include; fever, a full/bulging fontanelle drowsiness and/or irritability, a high pitched cry, difficulty feeding, vomiting and seizures.

Older children may present with gradual or sudden; fever, vomiting, headache, seizures, stiff limbs, behavior and/personality changes and difficulty talking and walking.

What are brain abscess care options?

Depending on a number of factors, the goal of management is to diagnose and treat the problem early. Hospitalization with antibiotics, other medications depending on complications present and possibly surgery are likely. Physical, occupational and speech therapy may be required subsequently to assist the child to reach his/her full potential.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 6/12/2018 9:28:15 AM

Weekly Support Programs

Brain Wellness: Yoga for Kids

Participants will learn to optimize neurological potential across the developing age and care continuum, to provide other treatment modalities to optimize results, to provide options for our patients and families, to provide options for our patients and families, and more! Learn more.

From the Newsdesk

Mason's Story: Nicklaus Children's Makes the Difference for Child with Traumatic Brain Injury
Seeing a baby boy intubated, hooked up to a maze of machines, and with IV pumps snaking out of his tiny arms is an incredibly heartbreaking and terrifying experience. The Nicklaus Children’s staff was not only caring and friendly, but knowledgeable and explained everything to us in detail. Meeting the neurosurgery team brought us great comfort because they were confident and calm—they won our trust immediately.
Talkin' Kids Health: Individual Education Plans
Learn about Individual Education Plans with Dr. Reshma Naidoo, Neuropsychologist and Neurorehabilitation Specialist at Nicklaus Children's Hosptial.