Cerebellar abscesses are common neurosurgical emergencies in developing countries, and have a distressingly high mortality rate of 10 to 15% even today. There is still no consensus on the standard approach to these lesions, and controversy persists over whether these lesions should be treated with primary excision or aspiration.
The authors retrospectively analyzed 82 cases of cerebellar pyogenic abscesses in children treated at their institution over a period of 10 years. This represents the largest such series being described in literature. All lesions except 1 were otogenic in origin. The clinical and radiological features are discussed.
Primary excision was undertaken in 66 patients (80%) and aspiration in 16 patients (20%). Five patients in whom the abscesses were initially treated with aspiration subsequently underwent elective excision. Nine (12.6%) of 71 patients in whom the abscesses were excised had residual abscesses on postoperative imaging; in those who had undergone aspiration as the primary treatment, 6 (54.5%) of 11 patients had recurrent abscesses. There were no deaths among the patients who underwent excision of the abscess. Also, excision of posterior fossa abscesses required fewer repeated procedures with lower recurrence rates, and statistically lower rate of complications.
Compared to primary aspiration, the authors found that primary excision is the preferred method for treating cerebellar abscesses.