A brain abscess is a pus-filled swelling in the brain. It usually occurs when bacteria or fungi enter the brain tissue after an infection or severe head injury.although the risk of developing a brain abscess is extremely low in England, it is a life-threatening condition and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Symptoms of a brain abscess
The symptoms of a brain abscess may develop quickly or slowly but can include:-
1. Headache – which is often severe, located in a single section of the head and can’t be relieved with painkillers
2. Changes in mental state – such as confusion or irritability
3. Problems with nerve function – such as muscle weakness, slurred speech or paralysis on one side of the body
4. A high temperature (fever) of 38c (100.4f) or above
5. Seizures (fits)
6. Nausea and vomiting
7. Stiff neck
8. Changes in vision – such as blurring, greying of vision or double vision (due to the abscess putting pressure on the optic nerve)
causes of a brain abscess
There are three main ways a brain abscess can develop. These are:-
1. An infection in another part of the skull – such as an ear infection, sinusitis or dental abscess, which can spread directly into the brain
2. An infection in another part of the body – for example, the infection that causes pneumonia spreading into the brain via the blood
3. Trauma, such as a severe head injury – that cracks open the skull, allowing bacteria or fungi to enter the brain
however, in some cases, the source of the infection remains unknown.
diagnosing a brain abscess
If a brain abscess is suspected, an initial assessment will be made based on your symptoms, medical history and whether you’ve had a recent infection or a weakened immune system.
1. Blood tests can also be carried out to check for an infection.
If you’re referred to hospital for further tests, you may have either:
2. A computerised tomography (ct) scan – a series of x-rays are used to produce a detailed image of the inside of your body
3. A magnetic resonance imaging (mri) scan – which uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed image of the inside of your body.
If an abscess is found, a procedure known as ct-guided aspiration may be used to remove a sample of pus for testing. This involves using a ct scan to guide a needle to the site of the abscess.
treating a brain abscess
A brain abscess is regarded as a medical emergency. Swelling caused by the abscess can disrupt the blood and oxygen supply to the brain. There’s also a risk of the abscess bursting (rupturing).if left untreated, a brain abscess can cause permanent brain damage and could be fatal.
A brain abscess is usually treated using a combination of:
1. Medication – either antibiotics or antifungals
2. Surgery – either draining the pus through a hole in the skull (simple aspiration) or opening the skull and removing the abscess entirely (craniotomy)
treatment with antibiotics often begins before a diagnosis is confirmed, to reduce the risk of complications
By (Dr. MD Rahmatullah Shuvo)