A brain abscess or cerebral abscess is a buildup of pus due to a brain infection. This condition can cause swelling of the brain. A brain abscess is often caused by a bacterial or fungal infection in the brain triggered by a head injury or infection in other body tissues that spreads to the brain.
Brain abscess is often characterized by the appearance of a severe headache, fever, seizures, and even impaired consciousness. This condition is quite dangerous and requires prompt and appropriate treatment.
Causes of Brain Abscess
The main cause of brain abscess is the presence of a bacterial or fungal infection in the brain tissue. These bacterial or fungal infections can come from direct infection in the brain, head injuries, including surgical procedures on the brain, and the spread of infection to other organs through the blood.
The type of bacteria that most often causes the accumulation of pus in the brain comes from the Bacteriodes, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus , or Enterobacter types . While other types of pathogens that most often cause brain abscess formation are the fungus Aspergillus or the parasite Toxoplasma gondii .
There are several conditions that can increase the risk of brain abscess, namely:
- Have a weak immune system, for example due to suffering from HIV/AIDS , cancer, or using immunosuppressant drugs
- Have a middle ear infection ( otitis media ), infection of the ear bones ( mastoiditis ), sinusitis , tooth abscess, or meningitis
- Suffered from a head injury , skull fracture, or had surgery on the head
- Suffering from lung infection, endocarditis , infection in the abdominal cavity, pelvic infection, or skin infection
- Suffering from congenital heart disease (CHD) or abnormalities in the pulmonary blood vessels or pulmonary arteriovenous fistula
Symptoms of Brain Abscess
Symptoms of a brain abscess can vary, depending on the size and location of the abscess. Symptoms that appear can develop slowly or quickly.
Here are some of the symptoms of a brain abscess:
- Constant headaches
- The neck feels stiff
- Nerve function disorders, such as muscle weakness, paralysis, and slurred speech
- Changes in behavior, such as restlessness or confusion
- Visual disturbances, such as double vision, blurred vision, or blurred vision
When to go to the doctor
See a doctor immediately if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, especially if you have a severe headache accompanied by fever, seizures, and impaired nerve function. Brain abscess must be treated quickly and appropriately to prevent life-threatening complications of the sufferer.
If you have a disease that can increase your risk of developing a brain abscess, such as sinusitis, meningitis, otitis media, and infections of the heart, follow the treatment given by your doctor until complete.
Brain Abscess Diagnosis
To diagnose a brain abscess, the doctor will ask questions about complaints, symptoms, and the patient's medical and medical history. Then, the doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, including a neurological examination (neurology).
The doctor will also perform investigations to confirm the diagnosis and determine the cause of the brain abscess. Some of the additional tests that will be carried out are:
- Blood tests , to detect signs of infection from the level and number of blood cells
- Scans , such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs , to determine the location and size of the brain abscess
- Lumbar puncture , to identify pathogens, including the type of bacteria that causes brain abscess
- Biopsy , to identify changes in cells and tissues in the brain, as well as to determine the pathogens that cause brain abscess
- Blood culture examination , to look for bacteria or fungi that cause brain abscess
- Electroencephalogram (EEG), to determine electrical activity in the brain, especially in brain abscess patients who experience repeated seizures
If a brain abscess is suspected of being the spread of infection to other parts of the body, such as the respiratory tract, a sputum culture may be performed to determine the type of bacteria or germs that infect the lungs.
Brain Abscess Treatment
Brain abscess is a condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible. Treatment of a brain abscess will depend on the size, number, and type of bacteria or pathogens that cause the abscess in the brain.
In addition, brain abscess treatment is also carried out to relieve complaints and symptoms and prevent complications. Some of the treatment options that the doctor will do to treat a brain abscess are:
Medications are given to treat the infection that causes the brain abscess and reduce the complaints and symptoms experienced by the patient. Some types of drugs that will be given by the doctor are:
- Antibiotic or antifungal drugs, to treat infections that cause brain abscesses, including to treat brain abscesses caused by toxoplasmosis
- Diuretic drugs and steroids, to reduce intracranial pressure and swelling in the brain
- Anti-seizure drugs, to treat seizures that can occur in brain abscess
Surgery will be performed if the abscess is more than 2 cm in size or if the abscess is at risk of rupturing and damaging the surrounding brain tissue. The operation is performed by removing the abscess.
There are 2 types of surgery that can be done to treat a brain abscess, namely:
- Simple aspiration
Simple aspiration is done to remove the accumulated pus. This action is usually done with the help of a CT scan ( stereotactic aspiration ) to confirm the point of the abscess.
- Craniotomy Craniotomy
procedure is performed to remove an abscess from brain tissue. In this procedure, the doctor will remove a small part of the skull bone (a flap ) in order to access the infected brain tissue. Followed by the process of removing the abscess.
After surgery, the patient will be hospitalized for some time so that his condition can continue to be monitored.
Complications of Brain Abscess
Brain abscess has the potential to cause a number of complications, namely:
- Abscess comes back
- Brain tissue damage
- Mastoiditis or infection of the bone behind the ear
Brain Abscess Prevention
The way to prevent a brain abscess is to avoid conditions that can cause a brain abscess. Some of the ways that can be done are:
- Carry out a thorough examination and treatment if you have an infectious disease
- Maintain dental and oral health and hygiene, including regular check-ups with the dentist
- Use safety equipment, such as helmets or headgear, when working in an environment where there is a risk of head injury
- Living a healthy lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly
- Don't take drugs carelessly