The goal of treatment is to cure the infection and reduce the risk of permanent damage. Treatment usually includes antibiotics and surgery. In rare cases, antibiotics alone are used.
Antibiotics are usually given through a vein (IV) for at least 4 – 6 weeks. However, some people may need to take them for a longer time, depending on the type of bacteria and severity of the disease.
Surgery is usually needed to drain or remove the abscess. In addition, surgery is often needed to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or brain, to prevent further loss of function.
Early diagnosis and treatment greatly improve the chance of a good outcome. Once weakness, paralysis, or sensation changes occur, the chances of recovering lost function are reduced. Permanent nervous system damage or death may occur.
- Brain abscess
- Chronic back pain
- Permanent brain and nervous system damage (such as brain damage, sensory changes, or paralysis) if diagnosis and treatment are delayed
- Return of infection (common even if the disorder is treated)
- Spinal cord abscess
- Spread of infection into the bones of the spine or skull (osteomyelitis)
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Persistent back pain with fever
- Headache with fever
- Other symptoms of epidural abscess
An epidural abscess is a medical emergency.
Review Date : 9/28/2008
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Unviersity of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicne, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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