Dexamethasone adjunctive treatment for tuberculous meningitis


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Abstract

During a 5-year period, 280 of 2010 patients admitted to the meningitis ward of a referral hospital in Cairo, Egypt, were clinically diagnosed as having tuberculous meningitis and were treated with either antituberculous chemotherapy and dexamethasone or antituberculous chemotherapy alone. Fatality rates and neurologic sequelae were compared for the 2 treatment groups in the 160 patients who had cerebrospinal fluid cultures positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The overall mortality rate of 51% reflects the delay in receiving appropriate therapy (79% with symptoms for more than 2 weeks) and the severity of illness on admission (56% in coma, 39% drowsy). The fatality rate was significantly lower in the group receiving dexamethasone (43% vs. 59%, P < 0.05), particularly in the drowsy patients (15% vs. 40% P < 0.04), and in patients surviving long enough to receive at least 10 days of treatment (14% vs. 33%, P < 0.02). Development of neurologic complications after initiation of therapy (4 vs. 10) and permanent sequelae (6 vs. 13) were significantly lower in the dexa-methasone-treated group (P < 0.02).

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