Delayed Cerebral Injury in Adults With Bacterial Meningitis: A Novel Complication of Adjunctive Steroids?*

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Abstract

Objectives:

To report the prevalence of delayed cerebral injury in adults with bacterial meningitis and explore its association with adjunctive steroids.

Design:

Retrospective analysis of adults with bacterial meningitis between 2005 and 2016.

Setting:

Ten hospitals in the Greater Houston area.

Patients:

Consecutive subjects with culture proven community-acquired bacterial meningitis.

Intervention:

Subjects were categorized as receiving or not adjunctive steroids within 4 hours.

Measurements and Main Results:

A total of 120 patients were identified who were admitted with community-acquired bacterial meningitis. Delayed cerebral injury was seen in five of 120 patients (4.1%); all five patients had fever and abnormal neurologic examinations. Adjunctive steroids within 4 hours were more likely given to those with delayed cerebral injury (5/5,100% vs 43/115, 37.5%; p = 0.01). Of the patients who developed delayed cerebral injury, three had Streptococcus pneumoniae, one had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and one had Listeria monocytogenes isolated. We observed an adverse clinical outcome as defined by the Glasgow Outcome Scale in four of the five patients (80%).

Conclusions:

Delayed cerebral injury occurred in 4.1% of adults with bacterial meningitis, and it was associated with the use of adjunctive steroids. Future studies should explore the etiology and prevention of this devastating complication.

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