Pediatric intracranial abscesses

J Infect. 2015 Jun:71 Suppl 1:S42-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2015.04.012. Epub 2015 Apr 24.


Intracranial infections in children are a relatively rare, but potentially severe condition. Because of the potential for rapid deterioration, timely diagnosis and treatment are necessary. These infections are categorized based on their intracranial location: epidural abscess, subdural empyema, and brain abscess. They largely arise from direct extension of adjacent infection, hematogenous seeding, or trauma. Clinical presentations of intracranial infections also vary. However, common signs and symptoms include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, altered mental status, focal neurologic deficits, and seizures. In general, MRI demonstrates a peripherally enhancing lesion with high signal on diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). Bacterial isolates vary, but most commonly are a single pathogen. Successful treatment requires a multidisciplinary team approach including such modalities as antibiotic therapy and surgical drainage. When possible, open surgical evacuation of the abscess is preferred, however, in cases of deep-seated lesions, or in unstable patients, aspiration has also been performed with good results.

Keywords: Brain abscess; Epidural abscess; Intracranial abscess; Pediatric; Subdural empyema.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Abscess*
  • Child
  • Empyema, Subdural*
  • Epidural Abscess*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn