Brain abscess history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Farwa Haideri [2]


Symptoms of brain abscess may develop slowly, over a period of 2 weeks, or they may develop suddenly. The most common symptoms include fever, headache, and other neurological problems such as hemiparesis or aphasia.[1]


Obtaining the history is the most important aspect of making a diagnosis of a brain abscess. A complete history will help determine the correct therapy and helps in determining the prognosis. Specific areas of focus when obtaining a history from the patient include:[2][3]

  • History of a clinical triad of fever, headaches, and focal neurological deficits
  • Immunosuppression


The symptoms of brain abscess are caused by a combination of increased intracranial pressure due to a space-occupying lesion (headache, vomiting, confusion, coma), infection (fever, fatigue etc.) and focal neurologic brain tissue damage (hemiparesis, aphasia etc.). The symptoms and findings depend largely on the specific location of the abscess in the brain.[1]

Common symptoms of brain abscess include:[4][5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brouwer, MC; Coutinho, JM; van de Beek, D (Mar 4, 2014). "Clinical characteristics and outcome of brain abscess: systematic review and meta-analysis.". Neurology 82 (9): 806–13. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000000172. PMID 24477107
  2. Brain Abscess. Wikipedia (2015). Accessed on October 7, 2015
  3. Brouwer MC, Tunkel AR, McKhann GM, van de Beek D (2014). "Brain abscess". N Engl J Med. 371 (5): 447–56. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1301635. PMID 25075836.
  4. Ferri, Fred (2015). Ferri's clinical advisor 2015 : 5 books in 1. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Mosby. ISBN 978-0323083751.
  5. Nath A. Brain abscess and parameningeal infections. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 438.

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