Pott's puffy tumor

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Pott's puffy tumor, spreading towards patients' brain. MRI, T1, sagittal, gadolinium contrast.

Pott's puffy tumor, first described by Sir Percivall Pott in 1760, is a rare clinical entity characterized by subperiosteal abscess associated with osteomyelitis. It is characterized by an osteomyelitis of the frontal bone, either direct or through haematogenic spread. This results in a swelling on the forehead, hence the name. The infection can also spread inwards, leading to an intracranial abscess. Pott's puffy tumor can be associated with cortical vein thrombosis, epidural abscess, subdural empyema, and brain abscess. The cause of vein thrombosis is explained by venous drainage of the frontal sinus, which occurs through diploic veins, which communicate with the dural venous plexus; septic thrombi can potentially evolve from foci within the frontal sinus and propagate through this venous system. This type of chronic osteomyelitis of the frontal bone is confused with acute sub-periosteal abscess of the frontal bone, which presents as a discrete collection over the frontal sinus.

Although it can affect all ages, it is mostly found among teenagers and adolescents. It is usually seen as a complication of frontal sinusitis or trauma.


  • Frontal sinusitis, acute or chronic.
  • Frontal trauma, usually blunt.
  • Some cases have been seen in a context of intranasal substance abuse (cocaine, methamphetamine).
  • Post-surgical: after frontal sinus reconstruction[1]


Treatment generally consists of surgical drainage, and long-term (6 to 8 weeks) use of antibiotics.


  1. ^ Banooni P, Rickman LS, Ward DM (March 2000). "Pott puffy tumor associated with intranasal methamphetamine". JAMA. 283 (10): 1293. doi:10.1001/jama.283.10.1287. PMID 10714727. 

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