Clinical characteristics and course of primary brain abscess

Nicole Lange, Maria Berndt, Ann Kathrin Jörger, Arthur Wagner, Nina Wantia, Nina Lummel, Yu Mi Ryang, Bernhard Meyer, Jens Gempt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Due to improved diagnostic methods, the incidence of brain abscess is still rising. Therefore, clear and evidence-based therapy for the patients who suffer from brain abscesses is necessary. Brain abscesses are potentially life-threatening conditions that possibly lead to permanent injuries even after sufficient healing has taken place. The aims of this study were to analyze the clinical aspects of patients with brain abscesses and thereby to reveal the relevant aspects for the future treatment of the brain lesions. Methods: We retrospectively identified 47 patients (24 male, 23 female) who had received surgery or undergone the frameless stereotactic drainage of brain abscesses in our center from March 2009 to May 2017. We analyzed the clinical characteristics of the patients, as well as comorbidities and outcomes. Results: The mean age was 58 (range 7 to 86). Focus identification was successful in 28 patients (60%), with the most frequent causes of brain abscesses including the following: sinusitis (25%), dental infections (25%), and mastoiditis (21%). The mean Charlson Comorbidity Index was 1.57. Among the patients, 34% showed immunosuppressive conditions. We performed 1.5 surgeries per patient (53% via craniotomy, 28% biopsies or stereotactic drainage, 19% both procedures), followed by antibiotic treatment for 6.5 weeks (mean). In 30% of patients, no bacteria could be isolated. During the follow-up period (a median of 12 months), 23.4% of the patients died. The mortality rate during the initial hospital stay was 4.3%. Conclusion: One third of the patients with brain abscesses showed immunosuppressive conditions, whereas brain abscesses also often occur in patients with good medical conditions. The isolation of the focus of infection is often possible. Surgical procedures showed very good outcomes. Patients over 60 years showed significantly worse clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2055-2062
Number of pages8
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain abscess
  • Outcome
  • Risk factors


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