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)
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
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Dr. John Ragheb, Director of the Division of Neurosurgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, is among a group of renowned physicians who developed the first evidence-based guideline in the U.S. on mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and concussions among children, published by the CDC in September.
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