Name: Intracranial Abscess
Alternative Names: Brain Abscess, Brain Infection, Subdural Empyema, Extradural Empyema
Intracranial abscesses are the result of an infection that occurs when bacteria and certain types of fungi gain entry to the tissues of the brain. The presence of bacteria and fungi in the brain leads to the formation of pockets of pus that are filled with dead and live bacteria. The formation of these pus pockets result in areas of swelling and pressure in and around the areas affected by the infection. Without treatment the pus pockets begin to swell causing inflammation of brain tissue, progressive swelling and pressure on other structures of the brain which could ultimately result in stroke, hemorrhage, or other serious injury including death.
Symptoms of Intracranial Abscess
The signs and symptoms of intracranial abscess are directly related to the size and number and location of the abscesses that are present. Symptoms include behavioral changes including agitation, aggression, confusion, slowed response, fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, visual changes, speech problems, loss of balance, and muscle weakness.
Treating Intracranial Abscess or Treatment of Intracranial Abscess
The goal of treating an intracranial abscess is to reduce swelling in the brain by treating the infection and ultimately shrinking the abscessed tissue. The treatment regimen usually includes hospitalization and administration of intravenous (IV) antibiotics / antifungals and fluids. Repeated scanning of the brain provides the medical team with the effectiveness of treatment and progress toward recovery. At times, surgery may be required to remove infectious fluids or excise larger abscesses in an attempt to reduce severe swelling. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is approved as an adjunct (companion) treatment to surgery and antibiotic / antifungal treatment. The fungi and bacteria involved in the infection of brain tissue are anaerobic bacteria which means that they do not survive well in environments that contain high levels of oxygen. As a result, HBOT provides an additional layer of antimicrobial protection by mounting a direct assault on the bacteria and fungi responsible to the abscess formation. The high levels of oxygen provided by HBOT ensures that traditional therapies are effective by stopping the spread and reproduction of deadly bacteria and by killing any that are present in the brain tissue.