Brain Abscess


A brain abscess is a collection of pus that occurs in the brain because of an infection. In the past, a brain abscess was “invariably fatal,” but progress in diagnosis and treatment has greatly increased the odds of survival. However, it remains a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.

Signs and symptoms of a brain abscess

The hallmark signs of a brain abscess are headache, fever, and neurologic difficulties.

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Poor mental focus
  • Poor responsiveness
  • Slow thought processes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Speech problems, such as slurred speech


  • Antibiotics (initially cefotaxime or ceftriaxone, plus metronidazole for Bacteroidessp or vancomycinfor Staphylococcus aureus based on suspicion, then as guided by culture and susceptibility testing)
  • Usually CT-guided stereotactic aspiration or surgical drainage
  • Sometimes corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, or both


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