Brain abscess refers to the collection of pus inside the brain due to an infection or an injury. Infection can be bacterial or viral and may have spread from one part of the body to the brain crossing the blood-brain barrier. Infection in brain can also be caused due to ear infection or can arise at the spot of injury. Brain abscess is usually a life threatening condition and must be treated in emergency care. When the pus sack inside the brain breaks, the fluids leak into other parts of the brain hindering the functioning of corresponding body parts.
To learn more about brain abscess, symptoms and causes, please read the previous article on Brain Abscess.
Treating Intracranial Abscess with HBOT
A little about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is performed in either of two different types of chambers:
- Solo glass chamber where the patient lies down
- Multi user chamber where the patient may be sharing the chamber with other patients.
In either case, the chamber will be filled with 100% pure medical grade oxygen and the pressure inside the chamber will be maintained at 2 to 3 times that of normal atmospheric pressure. Normal outside atmosphere consists of around 21% oxygen. That is, HBOT chamber has around 5 times more oxygen at higher pressure. As a result, the patient breaths more oxygen and the oxygen dissolves even in the blood plasma along with haemoglobin in the red blood cells.
The excess oxygen is supplied to every cell, tissue and muscle in the body including those in the brain. Most often, the infecting organisms thrive in no-oxygen zone. When oxygen is supplied to the brain cells and to the infected area, it helps in multiple ways:
- The supply of oxygen hinders the growth of infection causing organisms
- Oxygen is supplied to every brain cell and the cells that were previously deprived of oxygen start functioning normally. This can prevent paralysis or even death.
- HBOT also helps in reducing the swelling associated with the abscess. As the swelling reduces, the surrounding parts of the brain return to normal functioning. The patient can see having less severe headaches, seizures etc. (Symptoms can become milder).
- HBOT also boosts the capacity of the immune system to fight against the infection.
When is HBOT an option for treating brain abscess?
At least until today, HBOT is not considered as a primary treatment option for treating brain (or intracranial) abscess. This is used when the conventional methods of treatment aren’t helping or in addition to conventional methods.
HBOT becomes an option when the patient is suffering from multiple abscesses or when the abscess is in the interior parts of the brain.
HBOT will be recommended when conventional and even surgical treatment doesn’t help in resolving the infection inside the brain.