Focal intracranial infections due to Propionibacterium acnes: Report of three cases

Ray M. Chu, Ramu Tummala, Walter A. Hall

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20 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE AND IMPORTANCE: Except for its role in shunt infections, Propionibacterium aches has been of little interest to neurosurgeons. The rarity and indolent nature of focal intracranial infections by P. aches limit their recognition. Three cases of serious intracranial infection due to this organism are described. CLINICAL PRESENTATION: Three patients with histories of immunosuppression and neurosurgical procedures developed nonspecific, delayed presentations (5 wk to 5 yr after surgery) of intracranial infections. In two patients, radiological investigations showed enhancing lesions that were later found to be brain abscesses. A subdural empyema was found in the third patient. INTERVENTION: All three patients underwent surgical drainage of the purulent collections. P. aches was isolated in each case, and each patient was treated with a 6-week course of intravenous penicillin. All three patients made good recoveries, and subsequent imaging showed no recurrence of the infectious collections. CONCLUSION: P. aches is an indolent organism that may rarely cause severe intracranial infections. This organism should be suspected when an intracranial purulent collection is discovered in a patient with a history of neurosurgical procedures. Immunosuppressed patients may be susceptible to this otherwise benign organism. Surgical drainage and treatment with intravenous penicillin should be considered standard therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-720
Number of pages4
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 31 2001


  • Brain abscess
  • Propionibacterium acnes
  • Subdural empyema


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