In general, cysts and abscess can be differentiated by their structure and composition. Where the former is mostly comprised of abnormally behaving cells that form an enclosure, the latter results from fungal or bacterial infection thus forming an enclosure filled with pus. The formation of pus in case of abscess can be correlated to the body’s elevated defense mechanism against the foreign component. Cysts, irrespective of their location are mostly not painful and show gradual growth over a period of time. On the contrary, the occurrence of an abscess may show symptoms directly in the region or elsewhere on the body.
Cysts and abscess occurring in the brain are not extremely rare but are not spotted frequently. The latter can, however, result from prior infections occurring in some other place inside the body. Though there are, however, preliminary treatments available for easing symptoms in both the condition, surgical options happen to be the best. Surgical elimination of cysts, as well as brain abscess surgery,is the most effective for long-term survival.
What is Brain Abscess?
In approximately 25% to 50% of cases, brain abscess occurs from infections located elsewhere inside the body. Infections in major organs like the liver, lungs, kidneys, or heart can quickly spread to the brain and cause the formation of pus-filled enclosures. Besides, these can also be formed from minor ear infections, dental infections, and oral infections via the circulatory system. The location or origin of brain abscess determines symptoms, as well as the possibility of further complications.
Individuals who are HIV positive or have undergone an organ transplantation surgery pose a higher risk of infections and thus, need to adopt preventive measures. Since they have a reduced immune system, they are more prone to minor infections which may cause brain abscess to form.
Brain abscess may often go undetected, as the primary symptoms, in this case, includes recurrent headaches. However, in many cases, the individuals are reported with recurrent seizures, stiffness in the shoulder or neck region, frequent fevers, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and behavioral abnormality.
What are cysts?
Cysts in the brain are uncommon but not very rare. These may develop during the lifetime, or may even be congenital. Congenital cysts on brain form right before birth and can be life-threatening for the baby. If not, this can have an adverse effect on brain development and thus, cause problems in the future.
When located in the brain, the cysts may be filled with pus, blood, cells, or even Cerebrospinal Fluid, abbreviated as CSF. The composition is also dependent on the location of the cyst. Treatments for cysts occurring in the brain are limited and surgery is by far the most preferred treatment available. Depending on the origin, cysts are categorized into different types, which are:
- Neoplastic cyst
- Epidermoid cyst
- Dermoid cyst
- Arachnoid cyst
- Pineal cyst
- Colloid cyst
Which is more harmful?
Cysts and abscess occurring on the brain can both be harmful, but abscess occurring from fungal and bacterial infections make it more threatening. In the case of cysts, it depends on the origin as well as the type of cyst diagnosed. This is because, certain cysts occurring on the ventricular chambers, or protective covering or in proximity to sensory nerves may cause extreme behavioral as well as cause vision, speech or hearing impairment. Cysts may be benign or malignant, where the former poses little or no harm when small, the latter needs to be surgically removed urgently. Cysts are mostly restricted to one place and do not spread rapidly.
On the contrary, abscess or infection can spread rapidly with blood circulation and thus cause damage to other organs leading to failure on a large scale. In several cases, cysts often get converted into infectious form resulting in an abscess. In either case, both need to get operated.
Conditions of Treatment of Brain Abscess
Treating brain abscess in the preliminary stage is often started up with antibiotics. This is a significant step in preventing further infections as well as in curing the one already existing. Specific antibiotics are provided in case the causative agent is known if not, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is preferred for satisfactory results.
In case the treatment does not cure the condition, brain abscess surgery is performed. Surgical removal of the abscess is, however, preferred in case it is not connected to a major nerve vessel and poses no threat to the survival of the individual. In case the position of the abscess does not permit surgical procedures, surgeons may stick to the frequent draining of the abscess.
Post-surgical treatments are also important and play an important role in controlling complications or side effects if any. In case the candidate experiences frequent seizures post-surgery, the individual shall be prescribed with anticonvulsant drugs to ease the symptoms.