Encyclopedia of Intensive Care Medicine

2012 Edition
| Editors: Jean-Louis Vincent, Jesse B. Hall

Post-neurosurgical Brain Abscess and Subdural Empyema

  • Sonja HansenEmail author
  • Elisabeth Meyer
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-00418-6_463



Brain abscess is a focal intracerebral infection that begins as a localized area of cerebritis and develops into a collection of pus surrounded by a well-vascularized capsule. Patients usually present with focal neurological deficits and may or may not have a fever or peripheral signs of infection or symptoms due to increased intracranial pressure like headache or nausea and vomiting. Brain abscess can follow craniotomy, craniectomy, ventriculostomy, ventriculo-peritoneal shunt placement, Halo traction or intracranial monitor placement. The most common post-neurosurgical pathogens include Staphylococcus species, Enterobacteriaceae, and Streptococcus species.

Subdural empyema is located in the potential space between the dura and the arachnoid, spreads rapidly due to the lack of anatomical boundaries, and shows therefore less mass effect than brain abscess. Symptoms begin with fever, focal neurological deficit (mainly hemiparesis), nuchal rigidity,...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Greenberg BM (2008) Central nervous system infections in the intensive care unit. Semin Neurol 28:682–689PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Hygiene and Environmental MedicineCharité – University MedicineBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Charité Campus Benjamin FranklinInstitute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité – University MedicineBerlinGermany