About the Pediatric Neurosurgery Fund
Conditions & Diagnoses
> About The Brain
> Achondroplasia
> Aneurysm
> Arachnoid Cyst
> Brain Abscess
> Brain Tumours
> Cerebral Palsy
> Chiari Malformation
> Cortical Vision Impairment
> Craniofacial Anomolies
> Epilepsy
> Hearing Loss
> Hydrocephalus
> Medulloblastomas
> Moyamoya Disease
> Spasticity
> Spina Bifida
> Syringomyelia (Syrinx)
> Tethered Spinal Cord
> Trauma
Brain Abscess

A brain abscess is an encapsulated infection within the brain. There may be only a single abscess or multiple abscess in the brain. Brain abscesses are rare in children. Typical age at diagnosis is in primary school age.

What causes Brain Abscess?

Viruses or bacteria are common sources of infection causing a brain abscess. Typically, the infection may have spread from another area of infection in the body, such as a sinus infection. Other ways of infection spreading are via the blood stream often originating in the lungs, or because of direct trauma to the head via an open wound (e.g., after a motor vehicle collision). Rarely, an infection of a shunt may be the source of bacteria.

What are the symptoms of Brain Abscess?

The following are the most common symptoms of brain abscess, however, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Symptoms of a brain abscess in children may mimic many other conditions such as a fever, increased irritability, poor feeding, or sleepiness. However, more severe symptoms that require prompt medical attention are if there is a bulging fontanel in an infant, projectile vomiting, seizures, fever not responding to treatment, high-pitched crying, loss of balance, poor coordination, and loss of consciousness.

The symptoms of a brain abscess may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.

How is a Brain Abscess diagnosed?

Diagnostic tests that may be performed to confirm the diagnosis of brain abscess may include:
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Intravenous (IV) contrast agents may be given during the scan to better highlight the abscess.
  • Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT Scan)

Example of Brain Abscess on MRI.

Treatment of a Brain Abscess:

Specific treatment for a brain abscess will be determined by your child’s neurosurgeon based upon the location, size, and number of abscesses present. If the abscess is caused by bacteria, IV antibiotics will be started. Neurosurgical treatment of a brain abscess is done to prevent pressure from building up within the brain and to treat the infection.