Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) meningitis is an uncommon disease, and little is known about its epidemiology, clinical features, therapy, and outcome. We performed a multicenter retrospective study of MRSA meningitis in adults. Eighty-six adult patients were included and the following data were obtained: underlying diseases, clinical presentation, analytical and microbiologic data, response to therapy, and outcome.
There were 56 men (65%) and the mean age was 51.5 years; 54 of them (63%) had severe comorbidities. There were 78 cases of postoperative meningitis and 8 of spontaneous meningitis. The infection was nosocomial in 93% (80/86) of the cases. Among the 78 patients with postoperative meningitis, the most common predisposing conditions were cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) devices (74%), neurosurgery (45%), CSF leakage (17%), and head trauma (12%). Most patients had fever (89%), altered mental status (68%), headache (40%), and meningeal signs (29%). The most common CSF findings were pleocytosis (90%), elevated protein level (77%), and hypoglycorrhachia (30%). CSF Gram stain and blood cultures were positive in 49% (32/65) and 36% (16/45) of cases, respectively. An associated MRSA infection and polymicrobial meningitis appeared in 33% (28/86) and 23% (20/86) of cases, respectively. Antimicrobial therapy was given to 84 patients. Most of them received vancomycin (92%) either as monotherapy (64%) or in combination with other antibiotics (28%), for a median of 18 days. Overall 30-day mortality was 31% (27/86). Multivariate study identified 2 independent factors associated with mortality: spontaneous meningitis (odds ratio [OR], 21.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3–195.4; p = 0.007), and coma (OR, 9.7; 95% CI, 2.2–42.3; p = 0.002).
In conclusion, MRSA is a relatively uncommon but serious disease. Although most cases are nosocomial infections appearing in neurosurgical patients, spontaneous meningitis may present as a community-onset infection in patients with severe comorbidities requiring frequent contact with the health care system. Most patients have a favorable response to vancomycin, but the beneficial effect of combined and intraventricular therapy, or alternative drugs, remains unclear. MRSA meningitis is associated with a high mortality, and the presence of spontaneous infection and coma are the most important prognostic factors.