Brain abscess is an emergency medical condition caused by collection of infected material, coming from local or remote infection within the brain tissue. This infection results in swelling in the brain from the collection of pus and dead cells formed as a result of the infection.
Usually these viruses, fungi or bacteria reach the brain through a wound in the head or from an infection somewhere else in the body. About 20 to 30 percent of all brain abscess cases form through the infection of other places in the body.
Some of the risk factors for brain abscess:
Symptoms of brain abscess usually develop slowly over several weeks, but sometimes they may come suddenly. These symptoms result because of increased intracranial pressure and largely depend on the specific location of the abscess in the brain.
Common symptoms of brain abscess are:
Some other brain abscess symptoms in children may include:
Brain abscess is an emergency condition and may result in death in case of delayed or no treatment. It is estimated that 70 percent of the patient who receive time treatment survive, while 20 to 30 percent of the patients may die because of complications or absence of treatment.
Therefore, timely treatment for brain abscess can be life saving. It can be treated with the help of medication and surgery both. In some case, patients may experience long term nervous system problems after surgery.
Complications of brain abscess may include:
If the abscess is deep inside your brain or it is less than 2.5 cm, it will apparently be treated with antibiotics. Generally, broad spectrum antibiotics are prescribed that kill a variety of different bacteria’s. Sometimes, more than one type of antibiotic is needed.
Surgery is often preferred if the abscess does not reduce with the use of antibiotics or in case the abscess is bigger than 2.5 cm. Removing the abscess surgically involves opening the skull and draining the abscess. After the surgery, antibiotics may also be used to treat any underlying infections. In case surgery is recommended for the treatment of brain abscess, it will be carried out by a neurosurgeon.
There are two widely used surgical techniques to treat brain abscess:
In this procedure, a section of the skull is temporarily removed so the surgeon can access and remove the abscess from the brain.
In burr hole procedure, a small hole is drilled into the skull and a tube is inserted through the hole to help drain the brain abscess.
You will have to stay in hospital for a few weeks after the burr-hole aspiration, so that your body can be supported while you recover. You will also receive a number of CT scans, to confirm that the brain abscess has been fully removed.
After getting discharged, you may need a further 6 to 8 weeks rest at home before you can return to work or full-time daily activities. However, it is suggested to avoid any contact sport where there is a risk of injury to the skull, for at least 12 weeks.
It may result in certain complications such as infection, stroke, bleeding and seizures. In some cases, coma and brain damage may occur.
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