Epidural abscess (cerebral spinal abscesses)

Lower Back | Neurology | Epidural abscess (cerebral spinal abscesses) (Disease)


Epidural abscess is an infection of the outermost lining of the brain and spinal cord. The dura is the outermost lining of the brain and spinal cord. Infections may develop on the outside of this layer of tissue. The infection can get to the area either directly such as after a lumbar puncture, or through the blood stream. These infections are very serious and can result in paralysis and/or brain damage.

Neurological symptoms depend on the location of the abscess and may include:

(1) Decreased ability to move any part of the body

(2) Loss of sensation in any area of the body, or abnormal changes in sensation

(3) Weakness.

Causes and Risk factors

The infection is usually caused by bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus is most common), but may be caused by fungus. It can be due to other infections in the body, or germs that spread through the blood. However, in some patients, no other source of infection is found.

Epidural abscess of spine causes: back pain, fever, weakness, numbness, loss of bowel or bladder control. Epidural abscess of brain causes: headache, vomiting, fever, confusion, weakness.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The goal of treatment is to cure the infection and reduce the risk of permanent damage. Treatment usually includes antibiotics and surgery. In rare cases, antibiotics alone are used. Antibiotics are usually given through a vein (IV) for at least 4 - 6 weeks. However, some people may need to take them for a longer time, depending on the type of bacteria and severity of the disease. Surgery is usually needed to drain or remove the abscess. In addition, surgery is often needed to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or brain, to prevent further loss of function. ...

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