Brain Abscess

Brain Abscess Treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy


Sometimes when there is an infection in your body, you may develop an abscess. It appears as a swollen area of pus or translucent fluid within a confined pocket. Some abscesses are painful, and they can show up anywhere inside your body, including your brain.

When an abscess forms in the brain, it’s necessary to remove it before it causes permanent damage. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been proven to be an effective complement to other treatments because it significantly improves the outcome for a patient.

Causes of an Abscess

An abscess happens when an infection, usually bacteria, attacks your cells. In response, your body sends a team of white blood cells to battle that infection. While the infection is attacking your cells, these cells begin to die off, leaving a cavity inside your tissue. Your immune system comes to the rescue by sending white blood cells to kill the infection and also fluid to confine the infection so that it can not leave the area it’s in.

Some bacterial infections will try to fight back by releasing toxins to kill the white blood cells. The immune system, in return, sends more white blood cells, and the accumulation of dead white blood cells in the fluid will form the protein-rich fluid we know as pus. As this abscess swells, it can cause damage to nearby tissue.

An Abscess in the Brain

While the body is designed with several defenses to protect the brain, such as the blood-brain barrier, in some instances, the infection may still get in. For example, the blood-brain barrier could be damaged by swelling, which creates gaps in the barrier. Infection in the brain sometimes results from a dental abscess, an ear infection, or a sinus infection that has gone out of control. About one-fourth of the time, despite the blood-brain barrier, infection will enter the brain through the blood. When the infection gets into the brain, an abscess in the brain may form.

Sometimes infections will first develop outside of the head before traveling to the brain. Most common are a lung infection, skin infection, pelvic and bladder infection, and any infection resulting from a heart defect. Also, bacteria that originate in the gut can pose a threat to the brain, such as peritonitis which is an infection of the bowel lining. Infection is always more likely to enter the brain if, for some reason, the immune system is weak.

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Symptoms of a Brain Abscess

If you have a brain abscess, your first sign could be a seizure (although not always). Some of the other symptoms you could experience would be:

  • Headache, especially on the side of the abscess
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in mental status
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Slower thoughts
  • Less responsive
  • Coma

Increases White Blood Cell Effectiveness

Stimulates Release of Stem Cells

Improves Quality of Life in Patients

Most Conditions Covered by Insurance

Problems Associated with a Brain Abscess

Once an infected abscess develops in the brain, that infection may multiply so rapidly that it crowds out nearby brain tissue, which will create pressure and disrupt normal function. If the immune system is losing the battle with the infection, it will likely be unable to contain that infection to its specific area. This is when an infection can attack and kill other parts of the brain while also making toxins that further paralyze and destroy brain tissue.

As the infection continues to spread throughout the brain, paralyzing and destroying brain tissue, the immune system could launch a massive attack to save the brain. As the immune system launches this attack on a brain saturated with infectious organisms, that immune response could cause the brain to become inflamed. This inflamed brain would create pressure inside the skull which would further the catastrophic brain damage that may be irreversible.

Healing a Brain Abscess

If a brain abscess is suspected, doctors will order blood tests to check for an infection. Before the brain abscess is confirmed, antibiotics will be prescribed to avoid further complications. Then either a CT scan or an MRI scan will be administered to produce an image inside the patient’s body that will confirm if the brain abscess exists.

Once the abscess has been confirmed, a needle guided by a CT scan will be inserted to the site of the abscess so that pus can be drawn out and tested. If the abscess is larger than 2cm, brain surgery will be performed. Either the pus will be drained through a hole in the skull, or the skull will be opened enough so that the abscess can be removed entirely.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Improves the Outcome of a Brain Abscess

Studies have found that when a patient with a brain abscess receives hyperbaric oxygen therapy in addition to antibiotics, the outcome is far more successful, and surgery is less likely needed. Even when surgery is necessary, patients who receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy are more than twice as likely to fully recover without further complications or the need for a second surgery.

This is likely because hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases oxygen in the blood, enriching your plasma with so much oxygen that it floods into your tissues. This level of oxygen in your brain tissue kills infection by puncturing the individual cell walls of all pathogens with electrons while also restoring white blood cells to work at killing bacteria in their way.

Does Insurance Cover Hyperbaric Treatments?


Coverage for HBO is dependent on your insurance company’s Coverage Determination Policy.


Some indications are still not covered or coverage can vary by insurance provider. Contact us to verify coverage.

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HBOT Locations Near Me

Marietta, GA

61 Whitcher Street
Suite 2150
Marietta, GA 30060

Cumming, GA

1505 Northside Boulevard, Suite 1300, Cumming, GA 30041

Atlanta, GA

5665 Peachtree Dunwoody Road,
Suite G9,
Atlanta, GA 30342

Fayetteville, NC

3035A Boone Trail Extension,
Fayetteville, NC 28304

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