Brain abscess

"Antibiotic treatment is started, although surgical drainage of the abscess is usually necessary. After surgery, with the result of the culture, specific antibiotics are prescribed".


What is a brain abscess?

A brain abscess is an infection, a collection of purulent material in the cerebral hemispheres, which behaves clinically like an intracranial mass.

The intracranial pressure can increase excessively and compromise the patient's life.

A brain abscess is a medical emergency and hospital admission is often necessary until the necessary treatment is performed and the disease is stabilized.

It is more frequent in males and the most common isolated agents are streptococcus and staphylococcus, which are usually pluribacterial.

What are the symptoms of a brain abscess?

The most common symptoms of a brain abscess are

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Neck stiffness

It can also be accompanied by altered levels of consciousness or seizures.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have a brain abscess

What are the causes of a brain abscess?

The entrance of the germs to the brain can take place through three ways:

  • Hematogenous dissemination (through the bloodstream) from a distant infectious focus (usually nasopharyngeal).
  • Contiguity infection: from infectious focuses of adjacent cranial structures, such as the ear or sinuses.
  • Infection by direct entry, as occurs in head injuries that cause deep lesions or, less frequently, after neurosurgical intervention.

The bacteria most frequently isolated in brain abscesses are usually anaerobic and sometimes mixed, including streptococci and anaerobic bacteroids. Fungus, protozoa and parasites can also produce localized intracranial infections.

Who can suffer from it?

It is more frequent in males and the most common isolated agents are streptococcus and staphylococcus, which are usually pluribacterial.

How is an abscess in the brain diagnosed?

The diagnosis is made through the performance of a scan or computed tomography (CT) or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

A biopsy is usually performed by puncturing material from the abscess to identify the cause of the infection.

With the result of these tests, patients can begin to be treated before having the microbiological diagnosis.

A brain and nervous system (neurological) examination will usually show signs of increased intracranial pressure and problems with brain function.

How is a brain abscess treated?

Brain abscess is a medical emergency that often requires hospital admission.

Most patients with a brain abscess require antibiotic treatment and periodic monitoring with MRI or scanner.

In some patients a surgical intervention is necessary to evacuate the lesion (by means of aspiration and drainage of the abscess, stereotactic or open, depending on the location, characteristics, etc.).

Antibiotic treatment starts with a series of drugs to treat the most frequent pathogens, according to the patient's age and disease history. Depending on the results of the culture, it can be modified later.

Where do we treat it?


The Department of Neurology
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

The Neurology Department has extensive experience in the diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment of neurological diseases.

We offer a diagnosis in less than 72 hours, along with a proposal for personalized treatment and post-consultation follow-up of the patient by our specialized nursing team.

We have the most advanced technology for an accurate diagnosis with cutting-edge equipment such as HIFU, deep brain stimulation devices, video EEG, PET and epilepsy surgery, among others.

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • State-of-the-art diagnostic assistance with great work in research and teaching.
  • Specialized nursing team.
  • We work together with the Sleep Unit.

Our team of professionals

Neurological specialists with experience in treating brain abscess