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Pediatric focal intracranial suppuration: a UK single-center experience

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Theresa Cole, Dr Marcia Clark, Dr Alistair Jenkins, Dr Clark Clark


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Purpose Brain abscess (BA) and subdural empyema (SDE) are uncommon but clinically important conditions in childhood. Treatment involves surgery and prolonged courses of antibiotics. There is no consensus on the optimal approach. The objective was to review management and outcome of BA and SDE in a single UK center. Methods This retrospective case notes review of children with brain abscess or subdural empyema admitted to a tertiary pediatric infectious diseases and neurosurgical center from 2001 to 2009. Results Forty-two children were included in the study; 17 children were with BA, 23 with SDE, and two both with BA and SDE. The causative factors found in 88 % of the patients were most commonly sinusitis and meningitis with congenital heart disease and immunocompromise unusual. Streptococcus anginosus group organisms were most common; 10 % of the children had a resistant pathogen and 86 % had surgical intervention. Fifteen patients with BA underwent surgery; nine of these patients underwent burrhole aspiration, three had craniotomy, two had stereotactic surgery, and one had endoscopic aspiration. Remaining 19 patients with SDE underwent surgery: seven had burrhole aspiration, 11 underwent craniotomy, and one had aspiration via the anterior fontanel. The most common antibiotic regime was cefotaxime, metronidazole, and amoxicillin. Mean duration of treatment was 14.4 weeks. Mean time until normalization of C reactive protein was 23 days. Survival was 95 % and 20 % had ongoing neurological sequelae. Conclusions BA and SDE remain important childhood infections in the UK. Antibiotics are essential in the management of these cases. Empiric antibiotic choices require knowledge of likely pathogens and local resistance. Selected infections can be treated without surgical intervention. Long courses of antibiotics were administered. Outcome is good, and neurological sequelae were less common than found in previous series.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cole TS, Clark ME, Jenkins AJ, Clark JE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Child's Nervous System

Year: 2012

Volume: 28

Issue: 12

Pages: 2109-2114

Print publication date: 01/12/2012

ISSN (print): 0256-7040

ISSN (electronic): 1433-0350

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00381-012-1877-7


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