Treatment for a brain abscess usually involves a combination of medication andsurgery,depending on the size and number of brain abscesses.
A brain abscess is a medical emergency, so you'll need treatment in hospital until your condition is stable.
Treatment with medication often begins before a diagnosis is confirmed to reduce the risk of complications.
In some cases, it may be possible to treat an abscess with medication alone, or surgery may be too risky.
Medication is recommended over surgery if you have:
You'll normally be given antibiotics or antifungal medication through a drip, directly intoa vein. Doctors will aim to treat the abscess and the original infection that caused it.
If the abscess is larger than 2cm, it's usually necessary to drain the pus out of the abscess. However, you'll still need a course of antibiotics after surgery.
There are two surgical techniquesfor treating a brain abscess:
Simple aspiration involves using a CT scan to locate the abscess, then drilling a small hole known as a "burr hole" into the skull. The pus is drained and the hole is sealed.
A simple aspiration takes around one hour to complete.
Open aspiration and excisions are usually carried out using a surgical procedure known as a craniotomy.
A craniotomy may be recommended if an abscess doesn't respond to aspiration or reoccurs at a later date.
During a craniotomy, the surgeon shaves a small section of your hair and removes a small piece of your skull bone (a bone flap) to gain access to your brain.
The abscessis then drained of pus or totally removed. CT-guidance may be used during the operation,to allow the surgeon to more accurately locate the exact position of the abscess.
Once the abscess has been treated, the bone is replaced. The operation usually takes around three hours, which includes recovery from general anaesthetic ,where you're put to sleep.
As with all surgery, a craniotomy carries risks, but serious complications are uncommon.
Possible complications of a craniotomy may include:
The site of the cut (incision) in your skull can become infected, although this is uncommon. You're usually given antibiotics around the time of your operation to prevent infection.
Once your brain abscess has been treated, you'll probably stay in hospital for several weeks so your body can be supported while you recover.
You'll also receive a number of CT scans, to make sure the brain abscess has been completely removed.
Most people need a furthersix to 12 weeks rest at home before they're fit enough to return to work or full-time education.
After treatment for a brain abscess, avoid any contact sport where there's a risk of injury to the skull, such as boxing, rugby or football.
If you've had brain surgery and you hold a driving licence, you're legally required to inform the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) .
It's likely that the DVLA will suspend your driving licence due to your increased risk of having an epileptic fit. Your licence will only be returned once your GP or surgeon confirms it's safe for you to drive.
For most people, this is likely to be 12 months after surgery with no seizures occurring.
Read about a brain abscesses, a pus-filled swelling in the brain. It's a rare and life-threatening condition, usually caused by infection or a severe head injury
Read about the causes of a brain abscess, including infections or severe head injuries leading to bacteria or fungi entering the brain tissue
Read about treating a brain abscess, which usually involves a combination of antibiotics or antifungals and surgery