Pediatric infratentorial subdural empyema: analysis of 14 cases

J Neurosurg. 2006 Nov;105(5 Suppl):370-7. doi: 10.3171/ped.2006.105.5.370.


Object: Pediatric cases of infratentorial subdural empyema (SDE) are both rare and associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. The goal of this study was to report patient characteristics, treatment, and outcome in an exclusively pediatric series of SDE cases.

Methods: A series of 14 pediatric cases of infratentorial SDE was retrospectively analyzed. All patients were treated between 1994 and 2004. Sixty-four percent of the patients were boys; the majority of cases occurred during the summer months. Clinical features included headache, fever, vomiting, meningism, and otorrhea. Cerebellar signs were found only in 21% of patients. In 85.7% of the cases, the patients presented with a depressed level of consciousness (Glasgow Coma Scale Scores 11-15). In 79.6%, pus collection was seen over the cerebellar convexity; interhemispheric and tentorial collections were also observed in some cases. Hydrocephalus was present in 92.9% of patients. Five patients required external ventricular drainage during surgery or postoperatively. Shunt placement was required in 21% of cases. All patients were treated with antibiotic therapy and surgery (bur holes in 21% of the cases, craniectomy in 79%). Pus cultures demonstrated microbial infection in 71.4%, and polymicrobial infection in 21%. Four patients required repeated surgery for reaccumulation of pus. Minor postoperative complications developed in three patients. All 14 patients survived. At follow up, the Glasgow Outcome Scale scores were 4 or 5 in all cases.

Conclusions: Early diagnosis and prompt surgical treatment are crucial in cases of SDE. With appropriate surgery, antibiotic therapy, and management of hydrocephalus, good outcome can be expected.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cerebellar Diseases / complications
  • Cerebellar Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellar Diseases / etiology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / therapy*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunts
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ear Diseases / complications
  • Empyema, Subdural / complications
  • Empyema, Subdural / diagnostic imaging
  • Empyema, Subdural / etiology
  • Empyema, Subdural / therapy*
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / etiology
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery
  • Incidence
  • Infections / complications
  • Male
  • Neurosurgical Procedures*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents