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Brain Abscess

Brain abscess (Cerebral abscess) is a serious life threatening brain infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Brain Abscess

Symptoms may develop slowly, over a period of 2 weeks, or they may develop suddenly.

  • They may include:
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck, shoulders, or back
  • Aching of neck, shoulders, or back
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in mental status

                   Slow thought processes
                   Decreasing responsiveness
                   Eventual coma

  • Seizures
  • Fever and chills
  • Vision changes
  • Loss of muscle function
  • Decreased sensation
  • Decreased movement
  • Weakness
  • Decreased speech (aphasia)
  • Other language difficulties
  • Loss of coordination


Treatment of brain abscess

Several different types of antibiotics will be given.

Anti-fungal medications may also be prescribed if the infection is likely caused by a fungus.

An abscess that is injuring brain tissue by pressing on it or a large abscess with a high degree of swelling around it can raise intracranial pressure to the point where immediate treatment is needed.

Surgery is needed if :

  • Pressure in the brain continues or gets worse
  • The size of the brain abscess does not decrease after medication
  • The brain abscess contains gas (produced by some types of bacteria)
  • The brain abscess might rupture

Certain diuretics and steroids may also be used to reduce swelling of the brain.


Advice from your doctor

A brain abscess is a medical emergency. Pressure inside the skull may become high enough to cause death. You will need to stay in the hospital until the condition is stable. Some people may require life support.

Medication is recommended if you have:

  • Several abscesses (rare)
  • A small abscess (less than 2 cm)
  • An abscess deep within the brain
  • An abscess and meningitis
  • Shunts in the brain for hydrocephalus
  • An underlying disease that makes surgery dangerous

Written by Healthplus24 team
Date last Modified: September 20, 2012

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