Testing & Diagnosis for Brain Abscess in Children

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How does a doctor know that it's a brain abscess?

During the physical examination, your child's doctor will obtain a complete medical history of your child. In addition to urine and stool tests and a measure of your head's circumference, a doctor may do any of these diagnostic tests:

  • X-ray
    • uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • magnetic resonance imaging
    • also called an MRI
    • uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. I
    • Intravenous (IV) contrast agents may be given during the scan to better see the abscess
  • computerized tomography scan
    • also called a CT or CAT scan
    • uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
  • sputum culture
    • tests the stuff coughed up from the lungs and into the mouth.
    • helps to see if an infection is present
  • lumbar puncture
    • also called a spinal tap
    • a special needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal.
    • measures the pressure in the spinal canal and brain
    • a small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there is an infection or other problems.
  • Electroencephalogram
    • also called an EEG
    • records the brain's continuous, electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to your scalp
  • intracranial pressure monitoring
    • also called ICP
    • measures the pressure inside of your head
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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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