Superimposed intracranial infection is an uncommon but clinically significant complication in patients with active coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), particularly in those with predisposing immunocompromising conditions.
The authors describe a case of subdural empyema, secondary to extension from pansinusitis, in a 20-year-old otherwise healthy immunocompetent male who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. Despite his critical condition at time of presentation, he made a full clinical recovery with aggressive multidisciplinary surgical management between neurosurgery and otolaryngology, despite negative cultures to guide directed antimicrobial therapy. Ultimately, use of molecular-based polymerase chain reaction testing diagnosed Aspergillus fumigatus as the offending pathogen after the patient had already recovered and was discharged from the hospital.
This case demonstrates the potential for significant superimposed intracranial infection even in young, healthy individuals, infected by COVID-19 and suggests an aggressive surgical approach to achieve source control, particularly in the absence of positive cultures to guide antimicrobial therapies, may lead to rapid clinical improvement.