Surgical treatment of nocardial brain abscesses

Neurosurgery. 2002 Sep;51(3):668-71; discussion 671-2.


Objective: Nocardial brain abscesses are associated with significant morbidity and mortality rates. The optimal management remains unclear. We reviewed the surgical outcomes of patients treated with a relatively uniform policy at a single institution.

Methods: Eleven patients were treated at the Royal Adelaide Hospital between 1970 and 2001. Their clinical presentations, surgical treatment, and outcomes were reviewed.

Results: Clinical presentations most frequently involved focal neurological deficits (91%). Predisposing factors were identified for 63% of the patients. Nine patients were treated only with aspiration and long-term chemotherapy. Two patients underwent craniotomy and lesion excision. The majority of patients required either one or two procedures. There were no deaths in this series. Management complications were observed for three patients. Abscess aspiration was complicated by parenchymal hemorrhage and ventriculitis for one patient and temporary worsening of hemiparesis for two patients.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that aspiration alone (repeated as clinically indicated) is a safe, efficacious treatment for the majority of patients with nocardial brain abscesses.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Brain Abscess / drug therapy
  • Brain Abscess / microbiology*
  • Brain Abscess / surgery*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Cerebral Ventricles
  • Craniotomy
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / therapeutic use
  • Encephalitis / etiology
  • Hemiplegia / etiology
  • Hemiplegia / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nocardia Infections / drug therapy
  • Nocardia Infections / surgery*
  • Suction* / adverse effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents