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Brain Infection: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: May 20, 2024

What is the treatment ?

When pus gets confined inside a healthy person’s brain due to bacteria, brain infection is said to occur. The pus collected and dead cells due to bacteria will cause the brain to swell. These infections occur when bacteria find its way to reach your brain through any wound or an infection in any part of the body. Heart and lung infections seem to be major reasons behind brain infection. An ear infection, sinus or teeth infection can also provoke brain infection. Generally, CT and MRI scans are used to diagnose brain infections. A spinal tap or lumbar puncture is often performed to detect problems apart from brain infections. The treatment process demands hospital stay. Brain damage can happen if the swelling increases brain pressure. If the infection or abscess is less than 2.5 cm, antibiotics can be used for the treatment. Broad spectrum antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed ones for brain infections. They can kill the variety of bacteria. You may be asked to consume more than one type of antibiotic. The surgical process involves opening the skull and draining the pus. The fluid which constitutes the pus is examined in a lab to find the cause behind the infection. This can help in finding the right medications. Surgery has also opted when antibiotics don’t cure the infection. Surgery is recommended when your infection has chances of entering into the skull and when infection contains gases produced by bacteria. These infections are dangerous when they build up high pressure in the brain.

How is the treatment done?

If the infection extends for more than 2cms, pus needs to be drained out. The most commonly used surgical procedures to drain the infection are simple aspiration and craniotomy.

  • Simple aspiration

    First, the infected area is located using a CT scan. A small hole known as burr hole is then drilled into the skull. The difficulty in this type of surgery is locating the source which caused the infection. This is very much similar to the endoscopic evaluation method. A hole is used to drain the pus and it is then sealed. The entire takes around one hour for completion. A computed tomography along with a suction tool is used to detect the infection and draining it completely.

  • Craniotomy

    This is a risky procedure but doesn’t involve any serious complications. This will be recommended when the infection reoccurs or doesn’t get cured even after aspiration. A general anesthesia will be given before starting the procedure. During this type of surgery, the surgeon will shave a small section of hair and remove bone flap(the small piece of your skull bone) to get access to your brain. During the whole surgery, guidance is obtained through CT localization system so that exact and accurate position of the infection can be found. The removed bone will be replaced once the pus is drained and infection is treated. The entire procedure will take three to four hours to complete. This time is inclusive of recovery from the anesthesia given to make the patient sleep.

  • These kinds of treatment have the medium level of safety, effectiveness, and timeliness. These are associated with high risks and side effects. Swelling and bruising near the face, headaches, blood clots, movement of bone flap, stiff jaw are some of the complications of craniotomy. These are not serious issues and it becomes normal as the skull heals from the infection.

    The treatment is a combination of medication and surgery. You will be advised to follow medication when you have several infections. if your infection has affected deep inside the brain, if your infection is less than 2cm and if the infection is on the protective membranes. If the pus has grown more than 2cm then surgery may be recommended along with some antibiotics. Usually, antifungal medications are injected into the vein through a drip to treat such infections.

Who is eligible for the treatment?(When is the treatment done ?)

The patinets who are having problmes like high fever, vomiting, change in vision, chills, stiffness in neck, decreased sensation or speech it is advised to consult doctor. The doctor shall ask to undergo CT scan or MRI scan and thus on the outcome the doctor may treat for the brain infection. If you have any symptoms of brain infections or other disorders, you may be asked to undergo a CT scan prior to deciding any medication. If your brain is found infected and needs medication only, a doctor will ask to undergo the treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Patients who are not having any symptoms related to the diseases or the conditions needed for the treatment are therefore not eligible for the disease. But the best advice can be given by the specialist doctor and therefore it is advised that the patient consults the doctor before the treatment.


Are there any Side Effects?

Brain infection and its treatment are one among the risky ones. In cases of surgery, there are chances of some side effects and risks which may include allergic reaction because of anesthesia, there are chances of bleeding in the brain, in some cases, blood clot seems to develop, brain swelling, coma, speech impairment, balance and coordination difficulties, memory related problems. In some severe cases, there are chances of stroke and seizures.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

You will be closely observed after the surgery to ensure that everything is fine with you. A raised seating position will be recommended after the surgery in order to prevent your face and brain from swelling. The type of brain surgery decides the recovery time. You might have to stay up to a week after the surgery in the hospital. This is just to make sure that you become stable. The duration of your stay may vary depending upon your response towards the surgery. You may have to follow up with some pain medications during this time. The doctor will explain in detail the remaining steps, how to take care of wound if any, how to follow the medications, what to do and what not to do before you leave the hospital.

How long does it take to recover?

You will be asked to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks after the surgery. This is to provide the necessary support and to make you stable. During the stay, a number of CT scans will be taken to ensure that you are completely out of the brain infection. It is recommended to take six to twelve weeks rest at home after leaving the hospital for a fine recovery. This will help them to get back to work or education. Take enough care and stay away from games like football and boxing which can cause injury to the brain.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Almost all the top cities like Banglore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata are equipped with super specialty hospitals where brain surgery is offered. There are two types of surgery one is simple aspiration and another being craniotomy. Simple aspiration ranges from about 70,000 to about 3 lakhs in India. Craniotomy costs around 33,000 to 40,000 on an average.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

A recovery time of about six to twelve weeks can help one to get back to their routine in a normal way. You must follow the medications given by the doctor post-surgery. In some cases, headaches, memory related problems, seizures may occur.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Small and minor infections can be cured by mild antibiotics in most cases. Apart from medications, all you can do is to have a proper diet which includes herbal plants, fish oils etc. you can do yoga and meditation so that the brain remains relaxed and doesn’t feel high pressure. There are some healing crystals and herbs like ginkgo biloba can also help in the cure. Ginkgo is a tree whose leaves are used to treat many health problems. They work well for brain-related problems.


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Written ByDr. Arun Sharma MBBS,MS - General Surgery,MCh - Neuro SurgeryNeurosurgery
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