Infected subgaleal hematoma following blunt head trauma in a child: Case report and review of the literature

James Barry, Jared Fridley, Christina Sayama, Sandi Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Subgaleal hematoma (SGH), an uncommon but potentially dangerous complication, has been reported to occur with delivery in newborns, as well as in young patients following head trauma. Infection of a SGH is extremely rare, especially in cases where no disruption of the skin barrier occurs. We report a case of an infected SGH in an 8-month-old following closed skull fracture. The patient presented with scalp swelling 1 day after falling 3 feet. Initial evaluation found a nondisplaced skull fracture on computed tomography. She was discharged following an uneventful 23-hour observation. Three days later, she developed symptoms concerning for a viral upper respiratory tract infection and received symptomatic treatment. Nine days after injury, she returned with continued fevers, irritability, and significant increase in scalp swelling. Magnetic resonance imaging showed a subgaleal abscess with osteomyelitis. Needle aspiration revealed an infected hematoma with cultures positive for Streptococcus pneumoniae, treated with intravenous ampicillin. Purulent drainage from an enlarging necrotic needle aspiration site required subsequent surgical debridement of the subgaleal abscess with drain placement. She recovered well following surgery and intravenous antibiotics. Physicians should be aware that SGH carries a risk of serious morbidity and mortality. SGH can serve as a nidus for infection, typically from skin barrier breakdown or, as in this case, hematogenous spread. Early recognition, appropriate antibiotic therapy, and surgical debridement are critical in treating infected SGH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Neurosurgery
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 14 2015

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Keywords

  • Closed head injury
  • Pediatrics
  • Skull fracture
  • Subgaleal abscess
  • Subgaleal hematoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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