Brain Abscess

A brain abscess is a brain infection that may cause problems with a child's brain and spinal cord function. The team at Boston Children's Hospital works quickly to identify a child's brain abscess and take all the steps necessary to remove it.

A brain abscess:

  • can occur in all children, but are more common in young school-aged children
  • occur twice as often in boys than in girls
  • may be the result of a virus or infection
  • can be detected through a variety of tests, including x-rays, MRIs, ;and CT scans
  • may be treated with medication, but surgery may be required

What causes a brain abscess?

The most common causes are viruses and bacteria. Several factors may increase your child's chances of developing a brain abscess:

Is a brain abscess common?

Brain abscesses can occur in any child, but they're more common in young, school-aged children and occur twice as often in boys than in girls.

What are the symptoms of a brain abscess?

Symptoms vary from child to child, based on their age. The most common include:

For babies and younger children:

  • fever
  • a full or bulging soft spot on the top of the head
  • sleepiness or less alert than usual
  • increased irritability
  • high-pitched cry
  • poor feeding
  • projectile vomiting
  • seizures

For older children:

  • fever
  • complaints of severe headaches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • changes in personality or behavior
  • changes in speech
  • problems walking
  • increased movement in the arms or legs (spasticity)
  • seizures