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Med Sci Monit 1997; 3(2): RA279-284
Intracranial inflammatory complications arising from a primary focus in the head and neck have always been a serious problem. Although, presently their incidence and associated mortality have decreased almost tenfold in comparison with the situation from the pre-antibiotic era, the statistical interrelationships between various types of the complications have remained unchanged. The mortality rate in the most severe complications, that is brain abscesses, is still high, and many patients cured from these complications have permanent neurological deficits. Among the causes of intracranial complications the E.N.T. factors are the largest group. The analysis of the clinical reports on intracranial complications shows that they are significantly more frequent in children and adolescents than in adults, which may be explained as being due to an incomplete development of anatomic barriers in this age group. However, the more frequent occurrence of the complications in males, cannot be explained on the basis of the clinical reports. The author reviewed the literature on the anatomy and physiology of the venous system of the human head, and argues that the causes of the above difference are associated with the existence in man of two different patterns of venous outflow from the skull: the male pattern and the female pattern.