Rapid detection of bacterial meningitis using a point-of-care glucometer

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In case of acute bacterial meningitis, a decision on the need for intensive care admission should be made within the first hour. The aim of this study was to assess the ability of a point-of-care glucometer to determine abnormal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) glucose concentration at the bedside that contributes toward bacterial meningitis diagnosis.


We carried out a prospective study and simultaneously measured the glucose concentrations in CSF and blood using a central laboratory and a point-of-care glucometer. We compared CSF/blood glucose ratios obtained at the bedside with a glucometer versus those obtained by the central laboratory. We determined the performance characteristics of the CSF/blood glucose ratio provided by a glucometer to detect bacterial infection in the CSF immediately after CSF sampling.


We screened 201 CSF collection procedures during the study period and included 172 samples for analysis. Acute bacterial meningitis was diagnosed in 17/172 (9.9%) of CSF samples. The median turnaround time for a point-of-care glucometer analysis was 5 (interquartile range 2–10) min versus 112 (interquartile range 86–154) min for the central laboratory (P<0.0001). The optimal cut-off of the CSF/blood glucose ratio calculated from a bedside glucometer was 0.46, with a sensitivity of 94.1% (95% confidence interval: 71.3–99.9%), a specificity of 91% (95% confidence interval: 85.3–95%), and a positive likelihood ratio of 10.


A glucometer accurately detects an abnormal CSF/blood glucose ratio immediately after the lumbar puncture. This cheap point-of-care method has the potential to speed up the diagnostic process of patients with bacterial meningitis.

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