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Vladimir A. Ljubimov, Robin Babadjouni, Joseph Ha, Viktoria O. Krutikova, Jeffrey A. Koempel, Jason Chu, and Peter A. Chiarelli


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an ongoing viral pandemic that has affected modern medical practice and can complicate known pathology. The novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes symptoms that may mimic a viral pneumonia, with potential for serious sequelae, including acute respiratory distress syndrome, coagulopathy, multiorgan dysfunction, systemic vascular abnormalities, and secondary infection.


The authors describe a case of a 15-year-old boy who presented with a right subdural empyema and sinusitis while having active COVID-19 infection. The patient initially presented with left-sided weakness, frontal sinusitis, and subdural empyema. Emergent surgery was performed for evacuation of empyema and sinus debridement. Samples of purulent material within the subdural space were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. The patient had a successful recovery and regained the use of his right side after combined treatment. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of a bacterial subdural empyema associated with frontal sinusitis in a coinfected patient with COVID-19 without evidence of COVID-19 intracranial infection.


A subdural empyema, which is a surgical emergency, was likely a superinfection caused by COVID-19. This, along with the coagulopathy caused by the virus, introduced unique challenges to the treatment of a known pathology.