Subdural empyema and epidural abscess: recent experience in a community hospital

South Med J. 1987 Oct;80(10):1254-8. doi: 10.1097/00007611-198710000-00014.


We treated 31 cases of localized central nervous system infection over a seven-year period in our community hospital. The causes included brain abscess in 18 cases (58%); cranial subdural empyema (CSE) in six cases (20%); spinal epidural abscess (SEA) in four cases (13%); cranial epidural abscess (CEA) in two cases (6%); and spinal subdural empyema (SSE) in one case (3%). Both CSE and CEA were often caused by sinusitis and manifested by fever, headache, altered sensorium, and focal neurologic signs. Treatment consisted of drainage by burr holes or craniotomy followed by long-term administration of parenteral antibiotics. Though all patients with CSE and CEA survived, half had severe residual neurologic deficits. Both SEA and SSE were manifested by fever, spinal pain, and loss of motor function, and both were treated by laminectomy drainage and antibiotic administration. One patient died and three of the other four had residual neurologic deficits or back pain. Diagnosis of CSE and CEA was facilitated by CT scanning, while clinical examination, CT scanning, and myelography were useful in diagnosing SEA; SSE was not suspected preoperatively.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Abscess / microbiology
  • Abscess / therapy
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Brain Abscess / microbiology
  • Brain Abscess / therapy
  • Child
  • Empyema, Subdural / diagnosis*
  • Empyema, Subdural / microbiology
  • Empyema, Subdural / therapy
  • Epidural Space
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / microbiology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / therapy