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Free Content Tuberculous meningitis in adults: an eleven-year review

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OBJECTIVE: To assess the presentation, diagnosis and outcome of patients with tuberculous meningitis (TBM).

DESIGN: The medical records of adults with TBM who were treated at Dicle University Hospital between January 1985 and October 1996 were reviewed.

RESULTS: In total, 101 patients were identified and stratified according to the stage of disease at presentation. The mean duration of the symptoms of TBM before admission was 12 days. The majority of patients had headaches (96.0%), fever (91.1%), nuchal rigidity (91.1%), vomiting (81.2%), meningism (79.2%) and abnormal mental state (72.3%). The mean cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leukocyte count was 0.38 × 109/L, protein 1410 mg/L, glucose 2.0 mmol/L and CSF/blood glucose ratio 27%. Cranial computerized tomography (CT) scans were performed during the course of TBM in 64 patients. The results were normal in 6.3%, and abnormal in 93.7% of the cases; the most frequent abnormality found on CT was hydrocephalus (45.3%). Forty-four patients (43.5%) died. Minor neurological sequelae developed in 11 patients (10.9%), major sequelae in 10 (9.9%), and 31 patients (30.7%) completely recovered. There was no follow-up for five patients (5.0%). Five factors were important in predicting fatal outcome: stage III at presentation, low glucose levels, low CSF/blood glucose ratio, high protein levels, and CT scanning abnormality.

CONCLUSION: TBM is a very critical disease in terms of fatal outcome and permanent sequelae: 43.5% of the patients died and only 30.7% experienced complete recovery. Early treatment may reduce fatal outcome and morbidity.

Keywords: adults; clinical course; fatal outcome factors; tuberculous meningitis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, Dicle University, Diyarbakir, Turkey 2: Department of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, Dicle University, Diyarbakir, Turkey

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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