Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculous meningitis

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Purpose of reviewEarly diagnosis and treatment of tuberculous meningitis (TBM) saves lives, but current laboratory diagnostic tests lack sensitivity and the best treatment regimens are uncertain. This article reviews the advances towards better TBM diagnosis and treatments made over the last 2 years.Recent findingsA modified Ziehl–Neelsen stain, interferon-gamma release assays and Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen detection assays have all shown promise as new TBM diagnostic tests. HIV-associated TBM carries an especially grave prognosis and there are new data describing the optimal timing of antiretroviral treatment initiation and the clinical predictors of TBM immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. The pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of different fluoroquinolones for TBM treatment have been compared, and there are intriguing new data to suggest higher doses of rifampicin given intravenously may improve the survival. Finally, there are preliminary data to suggest that the beneficial effect of adjunctive corticosteroids on TBM survival may be augmented by aspirin and predicted by a polymorphism in a gene responsible for eicosanoid synthesis.SummaryMuch remains to be done to improve the outcome from TBM. There have been important advances in the treatment, which may influence treatment guidelines in the near future, but there remains an urgent need for better diagnostic tests.

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