Keywords: Brain abscess; radiation necrosis; radiation therapy; nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary ¶ Background. Radiation necrosis is a known complication following radiation therapy for extracranial as well as intracranial tumours. However, brain abscess formation in radiation necrosis has not been reported in the literature. We report the clinical data of 6 patients suffering from this condition. Method. Twenty-eight patients with radiation necrosis of the temporal lobe following radiotherapy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma were treated surgically at the Department of Neurosurgery, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong between January 1992 and July 1999. Of these, 6 cases were complicated by brain abscess formation. The clinical data of these 6 patients are retrospectively reviewed. Findings. The patients were 5 males and 1 female, ranging in age from 41 to 67 years. Three patients had previous treatment with steroids for the symptomatic radiation necrosis. A history of nasal infection or otitis media was recognised in all 6 patients. All patients were treated surgically by temporal lobectomy and excision of the necrotic tissue together with the abscess cavity. Intra-operatively, a bony defect was observed between the middle cranial fossa and the sphenoid sinus in 3 patients and the bony defect was repaired with a temporalis muscle flap. The species of organisms could only be identified in 3 patients. In 3 patients, the pus smear was positive but the culture was negative. Subsequently, 4 patients recovered and 2 patients died. Interpretation. Cerebral radiation necrosis is a predisposing cause of brain abscess formation. Surgical excision is recommended as the treatment of choice in this group of patients.
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