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Vol. 35, No. 2, 2001
Issue release date: August 2001
Pediatr Neurosurg 2001;35:82–89

Intracranial Complications of Frontal Sinusitis in Children: Pott’s Puffy Tumor Revisited

Bambakidis N.C. · Cohen A.R.
Division of Pediatric Neurological Surgery, Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital, and Department of Neurological Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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The objective of the present study is to describe the diagnosis and treatment of intracranial complications of frontal sinusitis (Pott’s puffy tumor) in a series of pediatric patients at our institution. A rare entity, Pott’s puffy tumor has been reported in only 21 pediatric cases in the literature of the antibiotic era. The hospital records and radiographic files at Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, over the previous 16 years were retrospectively reviewed in a search for patients with the diagnosis of Pott’s puffy tumor, defined as scalp swelling and associated intracranial infection. There were 6 male patients and 1 female patient. Ages ranged from 11 to 18 years (median 14.5 years). Intracranial infections consisted of epidural abscess in 5 patients, subdural empyema in 4 and brain abscess in 1. Intraoperative cultures grew anaerobic organisms in 1 patient, microaerophilic streptococcus in 5 patients, Klebsiella species in 1 patient and Streptococcus pneumoniae in another. All patients presented with frontal scalp swelling, and other common symptoms included headache, fever, nasal drainage and frontal sinus tenderness. Five patients were treated with antibiotics prior to their presentation. Four patients presented with neurologic decompensation characterized by varying degrees of hemiparesis, obtundation, pupillary dilatation or aphasia. All patients underwent craniotomy and evacuation of the intracranial infection. Even severely impaired patients demonstrated full neurologic recovery. Despite the widespread use of antibiotics, neurosurgical complications of sinusitis continue to occur. A high degree of suspicion, along with prompt neurosurgical intervention and the use of appropriate antibiotics, can result in favorable outcomes in even the sickest patients.

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