How can we help you?
Schedule anappointment »
Ask a question »
Request our expertopinion »
412-647-3685(within the U.S.)
An abscess is a collection of pus in an enclosed area of the body. Within the brain, bacterial or fungal infections cause abscesses.
A brain abscess is a serious, life-threatening condition. Ruptured abscesses have a high mortality rate.
Brain abscesses form when fungi, viruses, or bacteria reach your brain, typically through a head wound or infection elsewhere in your body. Heart and lung infections are among the most common causes of brain abscess.
Those with weakened immune systems, chronic disease, or who take drugs that suppress the immune system are most at risk of developing brain abscesses.
The goals of treatment for brain abscesses are to reduce intracranial pressure and eliminate the infection.
At UPMC, neurosurgeons will remove or drain the brain abscess to relieve the pressure. After treatment, you will need to take a course of antibiotics.
Doctors can identify brain abscesses using imaging studies, such as MRI or CT scans.
Your doctor will also ask you about your symptoms.
Brain abscess symptoms may include:
Symptoms of brain abscess in babies and young children include high-pitched cries, poor feeding, and full or bulging fontanelle (the soft spot located on the top of a baby’s head).
Sudden onset of a worsening headache, along with rigidity of the neck muscles and intolerance of bright light, could be signs that the brain abscess has ruptured.
Treatment for a brain abscess includes both:
The surgical approach will vary depending on the location of the abscess.
Our neurosurgical team will evaluate you and find the treatment path that is the least disruptive to your brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning.
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
| Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com