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Intracranial abscesses 

Intracranial abscesses
Chapter:
Intracranial abscesses
Author(s):

Tim Lawrence

, and Richard S.C. Kerr

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0597
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date: 07 March 2021

An intracranial abscess is a life-threatening condition. Although the incidence is low in countries where antimicrobial treatment for infections is widespread, they remain frequent causes of space-occupying masses in developing countries and, therefore, an important cause of death and disability. Early diagnosis and intervention is vital in reducing potential subsequent sequelae. This chapter describes how they can be broadly defined into three categories based on their anatomical location: extradural, subdural, and intraparenchymal. Aside from supportive care and (where possible) identification and treatment of any underlying cause, treatment requires (1) abscess drainage by image-guided surgical aspiration or excision by craniotomy, and (2) long-term antimicrobial therapy. Early intervention offers the best chance of recovery. Without intervention, intracranial abscesses are fatal. With appropriate treatment overall mortality is between 6.6% and 12.7%, depending on the surgical method used (aspiration compared with craniotomy, respectively). Long-term complications from neurological deficit and epilepsy remain frequent in survivors.

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