A brain abscess is a serious disease of the central nerve system. We conducted this study to summarize the clinical manifestations and outcomes of brain abscesses.
A retrospective chart review of pediatric patients diagnosed with brain abscesses from November 1994 to June 2009 was performed at Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
Twenty-five patients were included in this study. On average, 1.67 cases per year were identified and the median age was 4.3 years. The common presenting clinical manifestations were fever (18/25, 72%), seizure (12/25, 48%), altered mental status (11/25, 44%), and signs of increased intracranial pressure (9/25, 36%). A total of 14 (56%) patients had underlying illnesses, with congenital heart disease (8/25, 32%) as the most common cause. Predisposing factors were identified in 15 patients (60%). The common predisposing factors were otogenic infection (3/25, 12%) and penetrating head trauma (3/25, 12%). Causative organisms were identified in 64% of patients (16/25). The causative agents were S. intermedius (n=3), S. aureus (n=3), S. pneumoniae (n=1), Group B streptococcus (n=2), E. coli (n=1), P. aeruginosa (n=1), and suspected fungal infection (n=5). Seven patients received medical treatment only while the other 18 patients also required surgical intervention. The overall fatality rate was 16% and 20% of patients had neurologic sequelae. There was no statistical association between outcomes and the factors studied.
Although uncommon, a brain abscess is a serious disease. A high level of suspicion is very important for early diagnosis and to prevent serious consequences.