Rev Esp Quimioter 2023; 36(2):152-159

Brain abscesses caused by anaerobic microorganisms: a systematic review


Published: 3 February 2023


The objective of this study was to perform a systematic review of the characteristics, causative microorganisms and outcome of brain abscesses caused by anaerobic bacteria over the past 25 years. We reviewed studies on brain abscesses which included infection due to anaerobic microorganisms published between 1998 and 2022. We excluded reports with polymicrobial infections (more than 2 anaerobic bacteria isolated) and those that do not provide enough information to make comparisons, the reports with only one case of brain abscess due to anaerobes, as well as those focused on an only anaerobic bacterium. Also, we have excluded the cases in pediatric population. We searched the scientific literature through the Cochrane Library, EMBASE and PubMed/MEDLINE databases for studies of this condition. We finally included 28 studies with 6,167 patients, of which 715 (11.5%) were cases caused by anaerobic bacteria. There was a male predominance (70%) and mean age of 40.3 years. Most infections were monomicrobial (59.4%). The most common anaerobic microorganisms isolated were Bacteroides spp (43.4%) and Gram-positive anaerobic cocci (35.1%). Cases of brain abscesses caused by anaerobic bacteria were most frequent in Asia and Europe. The source of infection most frequent was otogenic in 84.6% followed by a neurosurgery procedure infection in 23% of patients. The main symptom observed was headache in 95.6% of patients followed by fever (69.5%). Surgical treatment was performed in 48 % of patients and the percentage of patients in whom antibiotic treatment was applied range 88.8% to 100%. The main limitation of this review is the non-inclusion of studies published before of 1998 in which MALDI-TOF MS system had not been introduced in the majority of laboratories for routine identification.
The patient rate with isolation of anaerobic bacteria in brain abscesses is low, but these data could be underestimated mainly due to the fastidious nature of these microorganisms and the difficulties in the identification of some anaerobes.

Rev Esp Quimioter 2023; 36(2):152-159 [Full-text PDF]