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J Clin Neurosci. 2015 May;22(5):800-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2014.11.015. Epub 2015 Mar 21.

Intracranial bacterial infections of oral origin.

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Department of General Internal Medicine, Keck Hospital of University of Southern California, 1500 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA. Electronic address:
Ostrow School of Dentistry of University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Brain abscesses are rare but potentially deadly complications of odontogenic infections. This phenomenon has been described mainly in the form of case reports, as large-scale studies are difficult to perform. We compiled a total of 60 previously published cases of such a complication to investigate the predisposing factors, microbiology, and clinical outcomes of intracranial abscesses of odontogenic origin. A systematic review of the literature using the PubMed database was performed. Men accounted for 82.1% of cases, and the mean age was 42.1 years. Caries with periapical involvement and periodontitis were the two most common intra-oral sources, and wisdom tooth extraction was the most common preceding dental procedure. In 56.4% of cases, there were obvious signs of dental disease prior to development of intracranial infection. Commonly implicated microorganisms included Streptococcus viridans (especially the anginosus group), Actinomyces, Peptostreptococcus, Prevotella, Fusobacterium, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and Eikenella corrodens. There was an 8.3% mortality rate. Intracranial abscesses can form anywhere within the brain, and appear unrelated to the side of dental involvement. This suggests that hematogenous spread is the most likely route of dissemination.


Brain abscess; CNS abscess; Dental infections; Intracranial abscess; Oral infections; Periodontitis

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