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Preoperative and postoperative intracranial complications of acute mastoiditis.

OBJECTIVES: We determined the clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of an unusual cluster of intracranial complications seen in acute mastoiditis (AM).

METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of pediatric patients treated for AM in a tertiary care hospital from March 2006 to March 2007.

RESULTS: Eleven children, 6 months to 10 years of age (mean age, 3.8 years), were treated for AM confirmed by computed tomography, which identified asymptomatic intracranial complications in 8 of the 11 patients: these were sigmoid sinus thrombosis (4 patients), epidural abscess (4), perisigmoid abscess or bony erosion (2), and tegmen mastoideum dehiscence (1). All patients required operative intervention with tympanomastoidectomy, although only 2 patients required neurosurgical intervention, consisting of evacuation of epidural abscess and sigmoid sinus thrombosis, respectively. Cultures yielded routine organisms and 1 multidrug-resistant strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae. One patient developed reaccumulation of the subperiosteal abscess that required revision mastoidectomy, and another patient developed postoperative sigmoid sinus thrombosis.

CONCLUSIONS: Although uncommon, intracranial complications of AM may present without clinical signs or symptoms. Computed tomography of the temporal bone with contrast is essential for identifying asymptomatic complications. Mastoidectomy remains the mainstay of surgical treatment. Neurosurgical intervention and anticoagulation may be avoided with protracted postoperative intravenous antibiotics. Postoperative vigilance is crucial, as complications may evolve despite aggressive therapy.

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