Cephalohematomas, an occult nidus for infection and inflammation: A case report and review of the literature


Advocate Children's Hospital


Background: Cephalohematomas (CH) are benign neonatal fluid collections that arise between the periosteum and skull due to birth trauma, and usually resolve spontaneously without intervention. CH may rarely become infected.

Case description: The authors report a case of sterile CH requiring surgical evacuation in a persistently febrile neonate treated with intravenous (IV) antibiotics for Escherichia coli urosepsis. Diagnostic tap of the CH yielded no pathogens, but given the persistence of fevers, surgical evacuation was performed. The patient demonstrated clinical improvement postoperatively.

Conclusion: A systematic review of literature was conducted through a MEDLINE search using the keyword "cephalohematoma." Articles were screened for cases of infected CH and their subsequent management. Clinicopathological characteristics and outcomes of the present case were reviewed and compared to those in the literature. Infected CH were reported in 25 articles describing 58 patients. Common pathogens included E. coli and Staphylococcal species. Treatment included a course of IV antibiotics (10 days-6 weeks) and often included percutaneous aspiration (n = 47) for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Surgical evacuation was performed in 23 cases. To the authors' knowledge, the present case is the first documented report in which evacuation of a culture-negative CH resulted in resolution of the patient's clinical symptoms of sepsis that persisted despite appropriate antibiotic treatment. This suggests that patients with CH should be evaluated through diagnostic tap of the collection if there are signs of local or persistent systemic infection. Surgical evacuation may be indicated if percutaneous aspiration does not result in clinical improvement.

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