BRAIN OR EPIDURAL ABSCESS
DESCRIPTIONA brain or epidural abscess is a collection of pus caused by a bacterial infection in the brain or the outermost of 3 membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The brain, meninges (membranes that cover the brain), and the skull are all involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery to drain pus from the abscess.
Self-care after diagnosis.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSPain in the back, if the infection is in the covering of the spinal cord.
Nausea and vomiting.
Weakness, numbness, or paralysis of one side of the body.
Confusion or delirium.
The following symptoms usually appear gradually over several hours. They resemble symptoms of a brain tumor or stroke:
CAUSESAn infection that spreads from an infected skull, such as in osteomyelitis, mastoiditis, or sinusitis.
An infection that is introduced by a skull injury.
An infection that spreads through the bloodstream from other infected organs, such as the lungs, skin, or heart valves.
The primary source of bacterial infection that causes a brain or epidural abscess often cannot be found. These 3 sources are the most common:
RISK FACTORSHead injury.
Illness that has lowered resistance, especially diabetes mellitus.
Recent infection, especially around the nose and face.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Consult your doctor for treatment of any infection in your child's body--especially one around the nose or face -- to prevent its spread.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies such as blood studies, spinal-fluid studies, EEG (See Glossary), CAT scan (See Glossary).
X-rays of the skull.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSSeizures, coma, and death without treatment.
Usually curable with antibiotic treatment and surgery to drain pus.
HOME CARENo specific instructions except those under other headings.
MEDICATIONAntibiotics for 4 to 6 weeks to fight infection.
Anticonvulsants to prevent seizures.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
While in the hospital, the patient will need bed rest. After a 2- to 3-week recovery, your child should be as active as renewed strength and a feeling of well-being allow.
DIET & FLUIDS
The child should eat a normal, well-balanced diet. Vitamin and mineral supplements should not be necessary unless there is evidence of deficiency or an inability to eat normally.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has any symptoms of a brain or epidural abscess.
Fever rises to 101F (38.3C) or higher.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.