Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Antibiotic treatment of abscesses of the central nervous system.

Br Med J 1977; 2 doi: (Published 15 October 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;2:985
  1. J de Louvois,
  2. P Gortvai,
  3. R Hurley


    Samples of intracranial pus and serum from 32 patients were assayed to determine the concentrations reached in them of penicillin, ampicillin, cloxacillin, cephaloridine, gentamicin, chloramphenicol, fusidic acid, and lincomycin. Metronidazole had not been given. Penicillin penetrated abscesses reasonably well, but other beta-lactam antibiotics did not. The penetration of chloramphenicol was erratic. Aminoglycosides penetrated poorly, but lincomycin and fusidic acid penetrated well. Assay of sulphonamides and co-trimoxazole in pus was unreliable. These studies indicate that treatment of abscesses of the central nervous system should be considered according to the site and the likely antecedent cause. Abscesses of sinusitic origin, usually in the frontal lobe, yield penicillin-sensitive streptococci. Penicillin is the drug of choice. Abscesses of otitic origin, usually in the temporal lobe, yield a mixed flora, often including anaerobic bacteria. Multiple antibiotic therapy is indicated. Abscesses of metastatic or cryptogenic origin yield streptococci or mixed cultures, and multiple therapy is appropriate while awaiting the bacteriological results. Spinal and post-traumatic abscesses yield Staphylococcus aureus, and fusidic acid is the drug of choice.