X-ray showing a skull fracture

HBOT and Intracranial Abscess Treatment

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, offers a unique treatment option to patients with intracranial abscesses because most of the organisms responsible for intracranial abscesses thrive in an oxygen-depleted environment. Because HBOT floods the body with 100 percent oxygen at increased pressure, the area of the abscess is flooded with oxygen, limiting the ability of the bacteria or virus to spread and continue infecting. In addition, HBOT also works to reduce the swelling associated with abscesses, as well as boost the body’s immune system to fight the infection itself.

Hyperbaric oxygen and HBOT therapy are FDA approved for use in the treatment of intracranial abscesses. This is especially true in cases where the patient has a compromised immune system or there are multiple abscesses. In addition, other indications include when the abscess is in a deep or dominant location or the patient is a poor surgical candidate. Physicians also turn to hyperbaric oxygen and HBOT for intracranial abscess patients that show little to no response or improvement after antibiotic therapy and surgical intervention.

What Causes Intracranial Abscesses?

streptococcus salivarius

The cause of an intracranial abscess is typically a bacterial or viral infection that makes its way to the brain. Additionally, an infection from the lungs or an open wound can allow bacterial or viral entry into the body. As the bacteria or virus spreads, it causes inflammation and swelling. The abscess grows and becomes filled with infected brain cells, active and dead white blood cells trying to fight the infection, as well as the organisms responsible for the infections. As the swelling increases, it puts pressure on the surrounding brain tissue, as the skull is unable to expand. As a result, this pressure can completely prevent oxygen from reaching the brain.

Some common conditions that increase the risk of developing an intracranial abscess include:

  • Congenital Heart Disease
  • Meningitis
  • Chronic Middle Ear (Otitis Media)
  • Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
  • Dental or Jaw Infection
  • Infections in the Face or Scalp
  • Head injury or Skull Fracture
  • Traction Device Used to Immobilize the Neck
  • Shunt Infections
  • A Disease or Disease Treatment Causing a Weakened Immune System
  • Infection of the Heart Valve (Endocarditis)
  • Pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the bladder (Cystitis)
  • Mastoiditis – Infection of the bone behind the ear

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of Intracranial Abscesses. For more information, call our office today! In addition, you may visit HERE and fill out our online information request form.

Symptoms of an Intracranial Abscess

A man with head pain

Symptoms of an intracranial abscess can often begin with a simple headache, but many times an unexplained seizure may be the first symptom. In addition, other symptoms include:

  • A High Fever
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Altered Mental Status – this can include confusion, lethargy, poor mental focus, slow thought process, irritability, and in severe cases, coma.
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Weakness or Paralysis on One Side of the Body
  • Slurred Speech or Inability to Form Words
  • Lack of Coordination and balance issues
  • Stiffness in the Neck, Back and Shoulders
  • Blurred or Double Vision

Traditional Treatments

IV Antiboitics

When a physician suspects an intracranial abscess, the immediate treatment begins with a wide-spectrum antibiotic to fight the bacterial infection. If they determine it is viral or fungal in nature, they administer antiviral or antifungal medications. Eventually, if the pressure continues to build despite treatment, there is a risk the abscess might burst. In this case, a surgical craniotomy may be necessary. In other words, surgeons will need to open the skull and drain or cut out the abscess. Additionally, corticosteroids help to reduce intracranial pressure and anticonvulsants help reduce seizures.

Call our office today for more information on HBOT and Intracranial Abscess or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Spiegel and his team or visit HERE and fill out our online contact form to request additional information. Take the next step in your healing process and see how HBOT can benefit you!