A brain abscess is a pus-filled swelling in the brain. It usually occurs whenbacteria or fungi enter the brain tissue after an infection or severe head injury.
Although the risk of developing a brain abscess isextremelylow in England,it is a life-threateningcondition and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
The symptoms of a brain abscess may develop quickly or slowly but can include:
Any symptoms that suggest a problem with the brain and nervous systemshould be treated as a medical emergency. These include:
If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Any symptoms that suggest a worsening infection, such as fever and vomiting, should be reported to your GP immediately.
If your GP isn't available, contact your local out-of-hours service or call NHS 111 .
There are three main ways a brain abscess can develop. These are:
However,insome cases, the source of the infection remains unknown.
If an abscess is found, a procedure known as CT-guided aspiration may be used to remove a sample of pus for testing. This involves using a CT scan to guide a needle to the site of the abscess.
A brain abscess is regarded as a medical emergency. Swellingcaused by the abscess candisrupt the blood and oxygen supply to the brain. There's also a riskof the abscess bursting (rupturing).
If left untreated, a brain abscess can cause permanent brain damage and could be fatal.
A brain abscess is usually treated using a combination of:
Treatment with antibiotics often begins before a diagnosis is confirmed, to reduce the risk of complications.
Complications of a brain abscess can include:
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