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Treatment and reconstruction of a complicated infected scalp squamous cell carcinoma with CNS invasion


A 60-year-old male patient with a large infected cranial apex lesion was admitted with lethargy and mental status changes. The patient underwent evaluation with imaging studies, a skin biopsy, cultures with microscopy and a diagnostic burr hole. MRI and positron emission tomography/CT scan revealed a squamous cell carcinoma with ingrowth in the midline of the brain and subdural empyema infected with Streptococcus anginosus and Staphylococcus aureus.

High dose intravenous antibiotic treatment was initiated and the patient subsequently underwent a surgical resection of the carcinoma with a 1 cm margin of surrounding skin and skull. The defect was reconstructed using a titanium plate and a free microvascular lattisimus dorsi muscle flap then covered with a split skin graft.

The patient received 37 radiation therapy sessions (66 GY) as adjuvant therapy.

Intensive neurorehabilitation slowly improved an initial paraparesis. The 7-month follow-up revealed a satisfactory cosmetic result and residual gait impairment secondary to central nervous system invasion.

  • neurosurgery
  • plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • skin cancer
  • neuroimaging
  • infection (neurology)

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