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Meningitis in Children

Meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis is inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body's defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the membranes ( meninges Meninges The brain and the spinal cord are enveloped by 3 overlapping layers of connective tissue called the meninges. The layers are, from the most external layer to the most internal layer, the dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater. Between these layers are 3 potential spaces called the epidural, subdural, and subarachnoid spaces. Meninges: Anatomy) that surround the brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification and spinal cord Spinal cord The spinal cord is the major conduction pathway connecting the brain to the body; it is part of the CNS. In cross section, the spinal cord is divided into an H-shaped area of gray matter (consisting of synapsing neuronal cell bodies) and a surrounding area of white matter (consisting of ascending and descending tracts of myelinated axons). Spinal Cord: Anatomy. The majority of cases occur during childhood and are predominantly viral or bacterial in etiology. Clinical presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor is influenced by the age of the child and the causative pathogen, but meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis typically presents with signs of meningeal irritation Meningeal Irritation Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, and lethargy Lethargy A general state of sluggishness, listless, or uninterested, with being tired, and having difficulty concentrating and doing simple tasks. It may be related to depression or drug addiction. Hyponatremia. Management varies depending on the pathogen isloated from the CSF. Prognosis Prognosis A prediction of the probable outcome of a disease based on a individual's condition and the usual course of the disease as seen in similar situations. Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas is dependent on the causative pathogen and appropriate timely intervention. Bacterial meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis can be life-threatening and has severe complications that may result in long-term sequelae.

Last updated: 11 May, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Overview

Definition

Meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis is inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the membranes, or meninges Meninges The brain and the spinal cord are enveloped by 3 overlapping layers of connective tissue called the meninges. The layers are, from the most external layer to the most internal layer, the dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater. Between these layers are 3 potential spaces called the epidural, subdural, and subarachnoid spaces. Meninges: Anatomy, surrounding the spinal cord Spinal cord The spinal cord is the major conduction pathway connecting the brain to the body; it is part of the CNS. In cross section, the spinal cord is divided into an H-shaped area of gray matter (consisting of synapsing neuronal cell bodies) and a surrounding area of white matter (consisting of ascending and descending tracts of myelinated axons). Spinal Cord: Anatomy and brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification.

Epidemiology

  • 80% of meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis cases occur in childhood.
  • Mostly in children < 10 years
  • Viral meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis:
    • Approximately 75,000 cases per year in the United States
    • Most common type in children
    • Boys > girls
    • 2 peaks of incidence Incidence The number of new cases of a given disease during a given period in a specified population. It also is used for the rate at which new events occur in a defined population. It is differentiated from prevalence, which refers to all cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency at ages 1 and 5 years 
    • Most common during the autumn and winter Winter Pityriasis Rosea months
    • Enteroviruses represent 85%–95% of cases.
  • Bacterial meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis
    • Most common type in neonates
    • Untreated, mortality rate Mortality rate Calculated as the ratio of the total number of people who die due to all causes over a specific time period to the total number of people in the selected population. Measures of Health Status of 100% 
    • Neonates (< 28 days old) are at ↑ risk due to ↓ immune response.
    • Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of community-acquired meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis in children (1.1 cases per 100,000 population).
    • Vaccination Vaccination Vaccination is the administration of a substance to induce the immune system to develop protection against a disease. Unlike passive immunization, which involves the administration of pre-performed antibodies, active immunization constitutes the administration of a vaccine to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. Vaccination against causative agents (e.g., Haemophilus Haemophilus Haemophilus is a genus of Gram-negative coccobacilli, all of whose strains require at least 1 of 2 factors for growth (factor V [NAD] and factor X [heme]); therefore, it is most often isolated on chocolate agar, which can supply both factors. The pathogenic species are H. influenzae and H. ducreyi. Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), S. pneumoniae, and Neisseria meningitidis Neisseria meningitidis A species of gram-negative, aerobic bacteria. It is a commensal and pathogen only of humans, and can be carried asymptomatically in the nasopharynx. When found in cerebrospinal fluid it is the causative agent of cerebrospinal meningitis. It is also found in venereal discharges and blood. There are at least 13 serogroups based on antigenic differences in the capsular polysaccharides; the ones causing most meningitis infections being a, b, c, y, and w-135. Each serogroup can be further classified by serotype, serosubtype, and immunotype. Neisseria) has ↓ the incidence Incidence The number of new cases of a given disease during a given period in a specified population. It also is used for the rate at which new events occur in a defined population. It is differentiated from prevalence, which refers to all cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency in all age groups, except for nonimmunized infants < 1 month of age.

Risk factors

  • Neonates: 
  • Older children:
    • ↓ Family income
    • Daycare
    • Head trauma Head trauma Head trauma occurs when external forces are directed to the skull and brain structures, resulting in damage to the skull, brain, and intracranial structures. Head injuries can be classified as open (penetrating) or closed (blunt), and primary (from the initial trauma) or secondary (indirect brain injury), and range from mild to severe and life-threatening. Head Trauma 
    • Splenectomy Splenectomy Surgical procedure involving either partial or entire removal of the spleen. Rupture of the Spleen
    • Chronic disease, e.g., HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs
    • Other infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease

Etiology

Table: Common causal agents of meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis in children
Bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology Viruses Viruses Minute infectious agents whose genomes are composed of DNA or RNA, but not both. They are characterized by a lack of independent metabolism and the inability to replicate outside living host cells. Virology Fungi Fungi A kingdom of eukaryotic, heterotrophic organisms that live parasitically as saprobes, including mushrooms; yeasts; smuts, molds, etc. They reproduce either sexually or asexually, and have life cycles that range from simple to complex. Filamentous fungi, commonly known as molds, refer to those that grow as multicellular colonies. Mycology
Newborns:
  • Group B Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus
  • Escherichia coli Escherichia coli The gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli is a key component of the human gut microbiota. Most strains of E. coli are avirulent, but occasionally they escape the GI tract, infecting the urinary tract and other sites. Less common strains of E. coli are able to cause disease within the GI tract, most commonly presenting as abdominal pain and diarrhea. Escherichia coli
  • Listeria Listeria Listeria spp. are motile, flagellated, gram-positive, facultative intracellular bacilli. The major pathogenic species is Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria are part of the normal gastrointestinal flora of domestic mammals and poultry and are transmitted to humans through the ingestion of contaminated food, especially unpasteurized dairy products. Listeria Monocytogenes/Listeriosis monocytogenes
Infants > 1 month and children:
  • S. pneumoniae
  • Neisseria meningitidis Neisseria meningitidis A species of gram-negative, aerobic bacteria. It is a commensal and pathogen only of humans, and can be carried asymptomatically in the nasopharynx. When found in cerebrospinal fluid it is the causative agent of cerebrospinal meningitis. It is also found in venereal discharges and blood. There are at least 13 serogroups based on antigenic differences in the capsular polysaccharides; the ones causing most meningitis infections being a, b, c, y, and w-135. Each serogroup can be further classified by serotype, serosubtype, and immunotype. Neisseria
  • H. influenzae H. influenzae A species of Haemophilus found on the mucous membranes of humans and a variety of animals. The species is further divided into biotypes I through VIII. Haemophilus type b
  • Mycobacterium Mycobacterium Mycobacterium is a genus of the family Mycobacteriaceae in the phylum Actinobacteria. Mycobacteria comprise more than 150 species of facultative intracellular bacilli that are mostly obligate aerobes. Mycobacteria are responsible for multiple human infections including serious diseases, such as tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), leprosy (M. leprae), and M. avium complex infections. Mycobacterium tuberculosis Tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteria. The bacteria usually attack the lungs but can also damage other parts of the body. Approximately 30% of people around the world are infected with this pathogen, with the majority harboring a latent infection. Tuberculosis spreads through the air when a person with active pulmonary infection coughs or sneezes. Tuberculosis
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Borrelia burgdorferi A specific species of bacteria, part of the borrelia burgdorferi group, whose common name is lyme disease spirochete. Borrelia
  • Enteroviruses
  • Arboviruses Arboviruses Arthropod-borne viruses. A non-taxonomic designation for viruses that can replicate in both vertebrate hosts and arthropod vectors. Included are some members of the following families: arenaviridae; bunyaviridae; reoviridae; togaviridae; and flaviviridae. Encephalitis
  • Herpesviruses
  • Mumps Mumps Mumps is caused by a single-stranded, linear, negative-sense RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae. Mumps is typically a disease of childhood, which manifests initially with fever, muscle pain, headache, poor appetite, and a general feeling of malaise, and is classically followed by parotitis. Mumps Virus/Mumps virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology
  • Adenovirus Adenovirus Adenovirus (member of the family Adenoviridae) is a nonenveloped, double-stranded DNA virus. Adenovirus is transmitted in a variety of ways, and it can have various presentations based on the site of entry. Presentation can include febrile pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, acute respiratory disease, atypical pneumonia, and gastroenteritis. Adenovirus
  • Influenza Influenza Influenza viruses are members of the Orthomyxoviridae family and the causative organisms of influenza, a highly contagious febrile respiratory disease. There are 3 primary influenza viruses (A, B, and C) and various subtypes, which are classified based on their virulent surface antigens, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Influenza typically presents with a fever, myalgia, headache, and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Influenza Viruses/Influenza virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology
  • Rabies Rabies Acute viral CNS infection affecting mammals, including humans. It is caused by rabies virus and usually spread by contamination with virus-laden saliva of bites inflicted by rabid animals. Important animal vectors include the dog, cat, bat, fox, raccoon, skunk, and wolf. Rabies Virus virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology ( LCMV LCMV Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is a single-stranded RNA virus transmitted to humans via rodents, the primary reservoir. Viral infections can occur through direct contact (such as through a break in the skin) with rodent urine, saliva, or droppings or via inhalation of aerosolized virus. The disease typically results in a self-limited, febrile, biphasic disease. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus)
  • Cryptococcus Cryptococcus Cryptococcosis is an opportunistic, fungal infection caused by the Cryptococcus species. The principal pathogens in humans are C. neoformans (primary) and C. gattii. Cryptococcus neoformans is typically found in pigeon droppings and acquired by inhaling dust from contaminated soil. The majority of affected patients are immunocompromised. Cryptococcus/Cryptococcosis neoformans
  • Coccidioides Coccidioides Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as San Joaquin Valley fever, is a fungal disease caused by Coccidioides immitis or Coccidioides posadasii. When Coccidioides spores are inhaled, they transform into spherules that result in infection. Coccidioidomycosis is also a common cause of community-acquired pneumonia and can cause severe disease in the immunocompromised. Coccidioides/Coccidioidomycosis immitis
  • Candida albicans Candida albicans A unicellular budding fungus which is the principal pathogenic species causing candidiasis (moniliasis). Candida/Candidiasis

Pathophysiology

  • Pathogens penetrate the blood- brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification barrier ( BBB BBB Specialized non-fenestrated tightly-joined endothelial cells with tight junctions that form a transport barrier for certain substances between the cerebral capillaries and the brain tissue. Nervous System: Histology):
    • Microorganisms replicate to levels not contained by a typical immune response. 
    • The integrity of the BBB BBB Specialized non-fenestrated tightly-joined endothelial cells with tight junctions that form a transport barrier for certain substances between the cerebral capillaries and the brain tissue. Nervous System: Histology is compromised directly (trauma) or indirectly (increased permeability in response to inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation/infection).
  • Pathogens undergo an incubation Incubation The amount time between exposure to an infectious agent and becoming symptomatic. Rabies Virus period before onset of symptoms:
    • 3–7 days in bacterial infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease
    • 2–14 days in viral infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease
  • Microorganisms cross the BBB BBB Specialized non-fenestrated tightly-joined endothelial cells with tight junctions that form a transport barrier for certain substances between the cerebral capillaries and the brain tissue. Nervous System: Histology through 1 of several mechanisms:
    • Hematogenous Hematogenous Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) and Liver Metastases dissemination (most common) 
    • Direct spread from a contiguous site of infection
      • Otitis media
      • Sinusitis Sinusitis Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the mucosal lining of the paranasal sinuses. The condition usually occurs concurrently with inflammation of the nasal mucosa (rhinitis), a condition known as rhinosinusitis. Acute sinusitis is due to an upper respiratory infection caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal agent. Sinusitis
      • Orbital cellulitis Orbital cellulitis Orbital and preseptal cellulitis are infections differentiated by the anatomic sites affected in the orbit. Infection posterior to the septum is orbital cellulitis. Inoculation with the pathogen can occur through trauma or surgery. Cellulitis also occurs via extension from a nearby structure (such as from sinus infection or sinusitis). Orbital and Preseptal Cellulitis
    • Transplacental spread of bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology (in neonates)
    • Head trauma Head trauma Head trauma occurs when external forces are directed to the skull and brain structures, resulting in damage to the skull, brain, and intracranial structures. Head injuries can be classified as open (penetrating) or closed (blunt), and primary (from the initial trauma) or secondary (indirect brain injury), and range from mild to severe and life-threatening. Head Trauma or cranial surgery
    • Open neural tube Neural tube A tube of ectodermal tissue in an embryo that will give rise to the central nervous system, including the spinal cord and the brain. Lumen within the neural tube is called neural canal which gives rise to the central canal of the spinal cord and the ventricles of the brain. Gastrulation and Neurulation defects
  • Meningeal inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation and irritation → IL-1 and tumor necrosis factor Tumor necrosis factor Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a major cytokine, released primarily by macrophages in response to stimuli. The presence of microbial products and dead cells and injury are among the stimulating factors. This protein belongs to the TNF superfamily, a group of ligands and receptors performing functions in inflammatory response, morphogenesis, and cell proliferation. Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) α ( TNF TNF Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a major cytokine, released primarily by macrophages in response to stimuli. The presence of microbial products and dead cells and injury are among the stimulating factors. This protein belongs to the TNF superfamily, a group of ligands and receptors performing functions in inflammatory response, morphogenesis, and cell proliferation. Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α)  → platelet activating factor → phospholipase A₂ → prostaglandins Prostaglandins A group of compounds derived from unsaturated 20-carbon fatty acids, primarily arachidonic acid, via the cyclooxygenase pathway. They are extremely potent mediators of a diverse group of physiological processes. Eicosanoids + thromboxanes Thromboxanes Physiologically active compounds found in many organs of the body. They are formed in vivo from the prostaglandin endoperoxides and cause platelet aggregation, contraction of arteries, and other biological effects. Thromboxanes are important mediators of the actions of polyunsaturated fatty acids transformed by cyclooxygenase. Eicosanoids + leukotrienes Leukotrienes A family of biologically active compounds derived from arachidonic acid by oxidative metabolism through the 5-lipoxygenase pathway. They participate in host defense reactions and pathophysiological conditions such as immediate hypersensitivity and inflammation. They have potent actions on many essential organs and systems, including the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and central nervous system as well as the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system. Eicosanoids
  • Leukocyte adhesion Adhesion The process whereby platelets adhere to something other than platelets, e.g., collagen; basement membrane; microfibrils; or other ‘foreign’ surfaces. Coagulation Studies release Release Release of a virus from the host cell following virus assembly and maturation. Egress can occur by host cell lysis, exocytosis, or budding through the plasma membrane. Virology of proteolytic enzymes Enzymes Enzymes are complex protein biocatalysts that accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed by them. Due to the body’s constant metabolic needs, the absence of enzymes would make life unsustainable, as reactions would occur too slowly without these molecules. Basics of Enzymes → increased permeability of BBB BBB Specialized non-fenestrated tightly-joined endothelial cells with tight junctions that form a transport barrier for certain substances between the cerebral capillaries and the brain tissue. Nervous System: Histology
  • Swelling Swelling Inflammation and proliferation of endothelial cells → increased intracellular sodium Sodium A member of the alkali group of metals. It has the atomic symbol na, atomic number 11, and atomic weight 23. Hyponatremia and water → brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification edema Edema Edema is a condition in which excess serous fluid accumulates in the body cavity or interstitial space of connective tissues. Edema is a symptom observed in several medical conditions. It can be categorized into 2 types, namely, peripheral (in the extremities) and internal (in an organ or body cavity). Edema and ↓ cerebral circulation Cerebral Circulation The circulation of blood through the blood vessels of the brain. Systemic and Special Circulations

Clinical Presentation

Clinical presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor in infants and newborns tends to be very nonspecific; therefore, there should be a high index of suspicion for meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis in all infants and newborns who appear ill.

Classic symptoms

  • Fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
  • Headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess 
  • Meningeal signs ( altered mental status Altered Mental Status Sepsis in Children, irritability, or confusion)
  • Neck stiffness Neck Stiffness Meningitis ( nuchal rigidity Nuchal Rigidity Meningitis)

Infants

  • Fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever (always prompts suspicion of meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis)
  • Low temperatures (particularly in neonates and premature Premature Childbirth before 37 weeks of pregnancy (259 days from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period, or 245 days after fertilization). Necrotizing Enterocolitis infants)
  • Bulging fontanelle Fontanelle Any of six membrane-covered openings between the cranial sutures in the incompletely ossified skull of the fetus or newborn infant. The fontanelles normally close sometime after birth. Skull: Anatomy (20% of patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship)
  • Irritability/ lethargy Lethargy A general state of sluggishness, listless, or uninterested, with being tired, and having difficulty concentrating and doing simple tasks. It may be related to depression or drug addiction. Hyponatremia (may present as refusal to feed)
  • Excessive crying
  • Grunting Grunting Physical Examination of the Newborn 
  • ↑ or ↓ tone
  • Toxic appearance 

Older children

  • Fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
  • Vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia
  • Headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess
  • Photophobia Photophobia Abnormal sensitivity to light. This may occur as a manifestation of eye diseases; migraine; subarachnoid hemorrhage; meningitis; and other disorders. Photophobia may also occur in association with depression and other mental disorders. Migraine Headache
  • Confusion
  • Nuchal rigidity Nuchal Rigidity Meningitis
  • Opisthotonus Opisthotonus Tetanus
  • Kernig and Brudzinksi signs
  • Petechiae Petechiae Primary Skin Lesions and purpura ( N. meningitidis N. meningitidis A species of gram-negative, aerobic bacteria. It is a commensal and pathogen only of humans, and can be carried asymptomatically in the nasopharynx. When found in cerebrospinal fluid it is the causative agent of cerebrospinal meningitis. It is also found in venereal discharges and blood. There are at least 13 serogroups based on antigenic differences in the capsular polysaccharides; the ones causing most meningitis infections being a, b, c, y, and w-135. Each serogroup can be further classified by serotype, serosubtype, and immunotype. Neisseria)
Signs positive signs for meningitis

Positive clinical examination findings for meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis

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Diagnosis

A diagnosis of meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis is based on clinical findings and confirmed with positive findings in the CSF.

CSF analysis CSF analysis Meningitis

  • The likelihood of positive CSF findings is 80%–90% if the sample is taken before the initiation of antibiotics.
  • CSF is obtained by lumbar puncture Lumbar Puncture Febrile Infant (LP):
    • Contraindications Contraindications A condition or factor associated with a recipient that makes the use of a drug, procedure, or physical agent improper or inadvisable. Contraindications may be absolute (life threatening) or relative (higher risk of complications in which benefits may outweigh risks). Noninvasive Ventilation to LP include:
      • Intracranial pressure Intracranial Pressure Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension caused by tumors or an intracranial mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast
      • Active seizures Seizures A seizure is abnormal electrical activity of the neurons in the cerebral cortex that can manifest in numerous ways depending on the region of the brain affected. Seizures consist of a sudden imbalance that occurs between the excitatory and inhibitory signals in cortical neurons, creating a net excitation. The 2 major classes of seizures are focal and generalized. Seizures 
      • Papilledema Papilledema Swelling of the optic disk, usually in association with increased intracranial pressure, characterized by hyperemia, blurring of the disk margins, microhemorrhages, blind spot enlargement, and engorgement of retinal veins. Chronic papilledema may cause optic atrophy and visual loss. Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension ( optic disc Optic disc The portion of the optic nerve seen in the fundus with the ophthalmoscope. It is formed by the meeting of all the retinal ganglion cell axons as they enter the optic nerve. Eye: Anatomy swelling Swelling Inflammation
    • CT scan is only indicated prior to LP if there is concern because of: 
  • Findings:
    • ↑ WBCs
    • RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology
    • ↑ or ↓ glucose Glucose A primary source of energy for living organisms. It is naturally occurring and is found in fruits and other parts of plants in its free state. It is used therapeutically in fluid and nutrient replacement. Lactose Intolerance and protein depending on etiology
    • CSF lactate has a high diagnostic yield for bacterial meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis.
    • Gram stain Gram stain Klebsiella and culture is used to identify the organism.
  • Nigrovic rules: a meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis scale Scale Dermatologic Examination used to assess for bacterial meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis
    • History of seizures Seizures A seizure is abnormal electrical activity of the neurons in the cerebral cortex that can manifest in numerous ways depending on the region of the brain affected. Seizures consist of a sudden imbalance that occurs between the excitatory and inhibitory signals in cortical neurons, creating a net excitation. The 2 major classes of seizures are focal and generalized. Seizures before or at time of presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor
    • CSF proteins Proteins Linear polypeptides that are synthesized on ribosomes and may be further modified, crosslinked, cleaved, or assembled into complex proteins with several subunits. The specific sequence of amino acids determines the shape the polypeptide will take, during protein folding, and the function of the protein. Energy Homeostasis > 80 mg/dL
    • CSF neutrophils Neutrophils Granular leukocytes having a nucleus with three to five lobes connected by slender threads of chromatin, and cytoplasm containing fine inconspicuous granules and stainable by neutral dyes. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation > 1000/µL
    • Total blood neutrophils Neutrophils Granular leukocytes having a nucleus with three to five lobes connected by slender threads of chromatin, and cytoplasm containing fine inconspicuous granules and stainable by neutral dyes. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation or absolute neutrophil count Absolute neutrophil count The number of neutrophils (as opposed to the percentage of WBCs) circulating per µL of blood . Neutropenia (ANC) > 10,000/µL
    • + CSF Gram stain Gram stain Klebsiella
Table: CSF studies in meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis
CSF Gram stain Gram stain Klebsiella High false-negatives, low false-positives
CSF protein In bacterial disease, usually > 80
CSF glucose Glucose A primary source of energy for living organisms. It is naturally occurring and is found in fruits and other parts of plants in its free state. It is used therapeutically in fluid and nutrient replacement. Lactose Intolerance In bacterial disease, usually < ⅔ serum glucose Glucose A primary source of energy for living organisms. It is naturally occurring and is found in fruits and other parts of plants in its free state. It is used therapeutically in fluid and nutrient replacement. Lactose Intolerance
CSF cell count
  • > 21: < 4 weeks
  • > 11: 4–8 weeks>
  • > 8: > 8 weeks

Supporting laboratory tests

  • CBC: WBCs > 10,000/µL
  • Metabolic panel: hyponatremia Hyponatremia Hyponatremia is defined as a decreased serum sodium (sNa+) concentration less than 135 mmol/L. Serum sodium is the greatest contributor to plasma osmolality, which is very tightly controlled via antidiuretic hormone (ADH) release from the hypothalamus and by the thirst mechanism. Hyponatremia
  • ↑ BUN and creatinine 
  • Serum glucose Glucose A primary source of energy for living organisms. It is naturally occurring and is found in fruits and other parts of plants in its free state. It is used therapeutically in fluid and nutrient replacement. Lactose Intolerance level
  • C-reactive protein: an inflammatory marker 
  • Blood cultures Cultures Klebsiella prior to starting antibiotics
  • Urinalysis Urinalysis Examination of urine by chemical, physical, or microscopic means. Routine urinalysis usually includes performing chemical screening tests, determining specific gravity, observing any unusual color or odor, screening for bacteriuria, and examining the sediment microscopically. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Children and urine culture Urine culture Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Special tests

  • Serum Lyme titers may be obtained in areas where Lyme disease Lyme disease Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection caused by the gram-negative spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is transmitted by the black-legged Ixodes tick (known as a deer tick), which is only found in specific geographic regions. Patient presentation can vary depending on the stage of the disease and may include a characteristic erythema migrans rash. Lyme Disease is endemic.
  • Enterovirus Enterovirus A genus of the family picornaviridae whose members preferentially inhabit the intestinal tract of a variety of hosts. The genus contains many species. Newly described members of human enteroviruses are assigned continuous numbers with the species designated ‘human enterovirus’. Coxsackievirus PCR PCR Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a technique that amplifies DNA fragments exponentially for analysis. The process is highly specific, allowing for the targeting of specific genomic sequences, even with minuscule sample amounts. The PCR cycles multiple times through 3 phases: denaturation of the template DNA, annealing of a specific primer to the individual DNA strands, and synthesis/elongation of new DNA molecules. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
  • Acid-fast stain and interferon gold in cases of suspected tuberculous meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis
  • HSV HSV Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the family Herpesviridae. Herpes simplex virus commonly causes recurrent infections involving the skin and mucosal surfaces, including the mouth, lips, eyes, and genitals. Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 PCR PCR Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a technique that amplifies DNA fragments exponentially for analysis. The process is highly specific, allowing for the targeting of specific genomic sequences, even with minuscule sample amounts. The PCR cycles multiple times through 3 phases: denaturation of the template DNA, annealing of a specific primer to the individual DNA strands, and synthesis/elongation of new DNA molecules. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) of CSF
Table: Differential diagnosis of meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis according to the characteristics of the CSF
Cells/ mm MM Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignant condition of plasma cells (activated B lymphocytes) primarily seen in the elderly. Monoclonal proliferation of plasma cells results in cytokine-driven osteoclastic activity and excessive secretion of IgG antibodies. Multiple Myeloma3 Type of cell Protein (mg/dl) Glucose Glucose A primary source of energy for living organisms. It is naturally occurring and is found in fruits and other parts of plants in its free state. It is used therapeutically in fluid and nutrient replacement. Lactose Intolerance (mg/dl)
Normal CSF < 10 Mononuclear (MN) < 45 35–100
Bacterial meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis > 1000 PMC > 80 ↓ or < ⅔ of serum glucose Glucose A primary source of energy for living organisms. It is naturally occurring and is found in fruits and other parts of plants in its free state. It is used therapeutically in fluid and nutrient replacement. Lactose Intolerance
Viral meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis < 300 First PMC, later MN Normal or ↑ Normal
MN: mononuclear
PMC: polymorphonuclear
Haemophilus influenzae meningitis

Inferior view of a brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification infected with gram-negative Haemophilus Haemophilus Haemophilus is a genus of Gram-negative coccobacilli, all of whose strains require at least 1 of 2 factors for growth (factor V [NAD] and factor X [heme]); therefore, it is most often isolated on chocolate agar, which can supply both factors. The pathogenic species are H. influenzae and H. ducreyi. Haemophilus influenzae bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology

Image: “ Haemophilus Haemophilus Haemophilus is a genus of Gram-negative coccobacilli, all of whose strains require at least 1 of 2 factors for growth (factor V [NAD] and factor X [heme]); therefore, it is most often isolated on chocolate agar, which can supply both factors. The pathogenic species are H. influenzae and H. ducreyi. Haemophilus influenzae meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis” by CDC. License: Public Domain

Management

Viral meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis

  • Self-limiting
  • Supportive care
  • Drug therapy is not the standard of care Standard of care The minimum acceptable patient care, based on statutes, court decisions, policies, or professional guidelines. Malpractice.
  • Empiric acyclovir Acyclovir A guanosine analog that acts as an antimetabolite. Viruses are especially susceptible. Used especially against herpes. Herpes Zoster (Shingles) is indicated in: 
    • Documented cases of HSV HSV Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the family Herpesviridae. Herpes simplex virus commonly causes recurrent infections involving the skin and mucosal surfaces, including the mouth, lips, eyes, and genitals. Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 
    • Immunocompromised immunocompromised A human or animal whose immunologic mechanism is deficient because of an immunodeficiency disorder or other disease or as the result of the administration of immunosuppressive drugs or radiation. Gastroenteritis individuals
    • Individuals with signs and symptoms of acute encephalitis Encephalitis Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain parenchyma caused by an infection, usually viral. Encephalitis may present with mild symptoms such as headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain or with severe symptoms such as seizures, altered consciousness, and paralysis. Encephalitis

Bacterial meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis

  • Monitor hydration status because syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone Antidiuretic hormone Antidiuretic hormones released by the neurohypophysis of all vertebrates (structure varies with species) to regulate water balance and osmolarity. In general, vasopressin is a nonapeptide consisting of a six-amino-acid ring with a cysteine 1 to cysteine 6 disulfide bridge or an octapeptide containing a cystine. All mammals have arginine vasopressin except the pig with a lysine at position 8. Vasopressin, a vasoconstrictor, acts on the kidney collecting ducts to increase water reabsorption, increase blood volume and blood pressure. Hypernatremia ( SIADH SIADH Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH) is a disorder of impaired water excretion due to the inability to suppress the secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH). SIADH is characterized by impaired water excretion leading to dilutional hyponatremia, which is mainly asymptomatic but may cause neurologic symptoms. S Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion (SIADH)) may develop.
  • Empiric antibiotic treatment should be started prior to receiving culture results in suspected cases and discontinued if cultures Cultures Klebsiella are negative.
  • If positive, administer directed antibiotic therapy to specific pathogens per standard-of-care guidelines and discontinue when CSF clears on repeat LP and clinical improvement is achieved.

Empiric therapy by suspected bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology

  • S. pneumoniae: 
    • Cefotaxime Cefotaxime Semisynthetic broad-spectrum cephalosporin. Cephalosporins or ceftriaxone Ceftriaxone A broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic and cefotaxime derivative with a very long half-life and high penetrability to meninges, eyes and inner ears. Cephalosporins
    • Vancomycin Vancomycin Antibacterial obtained from streptomyces orientalis. It is a glycopeptide related to ristocetin that inhibits bacterial cell wall assembly and is toxic to kidneys and the inner ear. Glycopeptides
    • Rifampin Rifampin A semisynthetic antibiotic produced from streptomyces mediterranei. It has a broad antibacterial spectrum, including activity against several forms of Mycobacterium. In susceptible organisms it inhibits dna-dependent RNA polymerase activity by forming a stable complex with the enzyme. It thus suppresses the initiation of RNA synthesis. Rifampin is bactericidal, and acts on both intracellular and extracellular organisms. Epiglottitis 
  • N. meningitidis N. meningitidis A species of gram-negative, aerobic bacteria. It is a commensal and pathogen only of humans, and can be carried asymptomatically in the nasopharynx. When found in cerebrospinal fluid it is the causative agent of cerebrospinal meningitis. It is also found in venereal discharges and blood. There are at least 13 serogroups based on antigenic differences in the capsular polysaccharides; the ones causing most meningitis infections being a, b, c, y, and w-135. Each serogroup can be further classified by serotype, serosubtype, and immunotype. Neisseria:
  • Hib:
  • Staphylococcus Staphylococcus Staphylococcus is a medically important genera of Gram-positive, aerobic cocci. These bacteria form clusters resembling grapes on culture plates. Staphylococci are ubiquitous for humans, and many strains compose the normal skin flora. Staphylococcus aureus:
    • Cloxacillin +/– rifampin Rifampin A semisynthetic antibiotic produced from streptomyces mediterranei. It has a broad antibacterial spectrum, including activity against several forms of Mycobacterium. In susceptible organisms it inhibits dna-dependent RNA polymerase activity by forming a stable complex with the enzyme. It thus suppresses the initiation of RNA synthesis. Rifampin is bactericidal, and acts on both intracellular and extracellular organisms. Epiglottitis 
    • Vancomycin Vancomycin Antibacterial obtained from streptomyces orientalis. It is a glycopeptide related to ristocetin that inhibits bacterial cell wall assembly and is toxic to kidneys and the inner ear. Glycopeptides + rifampin Rifampin A semisynthetic antibiotic produced from streptomyces mediterranei. It has a broad antibacterial spectrum, including activity against several forms of Mycobacterium. In susceptible organisms it inhibits dna-dependent RNA polymerase activity by forming a stable complex with the enzyme. It thus suppresses the initiation of RNA synthesis. Rifampin is bactericidal, and acts on both intracellular and extracellular organisms. Epiglottitis or linezolid Linezolid An oxazolidinone and acetamide derived anti-bacterial agent and protein synthesis inhibitor that is used in the treatment of gram-positive bacterial infections of the skin and respiratory tract. Oxazolidinones for MRSA MRSA A strain of Staphylococcus aureus that is non-susceptible to the action of methicillin. The mechanism of resistance usually involves modification of normal or the presence of acquired penicillin binding proteins. Staphylococcus

Empiric therapy by age

  • Infants < 4 weeks:
    • Ampicillin Ampicillin Semi-synthetic derivative of penicillin that functions as an orally active broad-spectrum antibiotic. Penicillins: 300–400 mg/kg/day divided into 4–6 doses
    • Gentamicin Gentamicin Aminoglycosides: 7.5 mg/kg/day divided into 3 doses
    • +/– Cefotaxime Cefotaxime Semisynthetic broad-spectrum cephalosporin. Cephalosporins: 225–300 mg/kg/day divided into 3–4 doses
  • Infants 4–8 weeks:
    • Ampicillin Ampicillin Semi-synthetic derivative of penicillin that functions as an orally active broad-spectrum antibiotic. Penicillins: 300–400 mg/kg/day divided into 4–6 doses
    • Ceftriaxone Ceftriaxone A broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic and cefotaxime derivative with a very long half-life and high penetrability to meninges, eyes and inner ears. Cephalosporins: 100 mg/kg/day divided into 2 doses
  • Children > 8 weeks:
    • Vancomycin Vancomycin Antibacterial obtained from streptomyces orientalis. It is a glycopeptide related to ristocetin that inhibits bacterial cell wall assembly and is toxic to kidneys and the inner ear. Glycopeptides: 15 mg/kg/dose every 6 hours
    • Ceftriaxone Ceftriaxone A broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic and cefotaxime derivative with a very long half-life and high penetrability to meninges, eyes and inner ears. Cephalosporins: 100 mg/kg/day divided into 2 doses
Meningitis - usual time of antibiotic therapy required for different pathogens

Usual time of antibiotic therapy required for different pathogens

Image by Lecturio.

Complications

  • Cerebral edema Edema Edema is a condition in which excess serous fluid accumulates in the body cavity or interstitial space of connective tissues. Edema is a symptom observed in several medical conditions. It can be categorized into 2 types, namely, peripheral (in the extremities) and internal (in an organ or body cavity). Edema
  • SIADH SIADH Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH) is a disorder of impaired water excretion due to the inability to suppress the secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH). SIADH is characterized by impaired water excretion leading to dilutional hyponatremia, which is mainly asymptomatic but may cause neurologic symptoms. S Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion (SIADH)
  • Seizures Seizures A seizure is abnormal electrical activity of the neurons in the cerebral cortex that can manifest in numerous ways depending on the region of the brain affected. Seizures consist of a sudden imbalance that occurs between the excitatory and inhibitory signals in cortical neurons, creating a net excitation. The 2 major classes of seizures are focal and generalized. Seizures
  • Hydrocephalus Hydrocephalus Excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the cranium which may be associated with dilation of cerebral ventricles, intracranial. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
  • Hearing loss Hearing loss Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, is any degree of impairment in the ability to apprehend sound as determined by audiometry to be below normal hearing thresholds. Clinical presentation may occur at birth or as a gradual loss of hearing with age, including a short-term or sudden loss at any point. Hearing Loss
  • Neurologic deficits Neurologic Deficits High-Risk Headaches
  • Vascular infarcts

Prevention

  • Routine childhood immunizations against the following is recommended:
    • Hib
    • S. pneumoniae
    • N. meningitidis N. meningitidis A species of gram-negative, aerobic bacteria. It is a commensal and pathogen only of humans, and can be carried asymptomatically in the nasopharynx. When found in cerebrospinal fluid it is the causative agent of cerebrospinal meningitis. It is also found in venereal discharges and blood. There are at least 13 serogroups based on antigenic differences in the capsular polysaccharides; the ones causing most meningitis infections being a, b, c, y, and w-135. Each serogroup can be further classified by serotype, serosubtype, and immunotype. Neisseria
    • Varicella
    • Influenza Influenza Influenza viruses are members of the Orthomyxoviridae family and the causative organisms of influenza, a highly contagious febrile respiratory disease. There are 3 primary influenza viruses (A, B, and C) and various subtypes, which are classified based on their virulent surface antigens, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Influenza typically presents with a fever, myalgia, headache, and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Influenza Viruses/Influenza virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology
  • Chemoprophylaxis: Preventive therapy can ↓ morbidity Morbidity The proportion of patients with a particular disease during a given year per given unit of population. Measures of Health Status and mortality Mortality All deaths reported in a given population. Measures of Health Status in the contacts of index cases.
    • N. meningitidis N. meningitidis A species of gram-negative, aerobic bacteria. It is a commensal and pathogen only of humans, and can be carried asymptomatically in the nasopharynx. When found in cerebrospinal fluid it is the causative agent of cerebrospinal meningitis. It is also found in venereal discharges and blood. There are at least 13 serogroups based on antigenic differences in the capsular polysaccharides; the ones causing most meningitis infections being a, b, c, y, and w-135. Each serogroup can be further classified by serotype, serosubtype, and immunotype. Neisseria: rifampin Rifampin A semisynthetic antibiotic produced from streptomyces mediterranei. It has a broad antibacterial spectrum, including activity against several forms of Mycobacterium. In susceptible organisms it inhibits dna-dependent RNA polymerase activity by forming a stable complex with the enzyme. It thus suppresses the initiation of RNA synthesis. Rifampin is bactericidal, and acts on both intracellular and extracellular organisms. Epiglottitis, ceftriaxone Ceftriaxone A broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic and cefotaxime derivative with a very long half-life and high penetrability to meninges, eyes and inner ears. Cephalosporins, ciprofloxacin Ciprofloxacin A broad-spectrum antimicrobial carboxyfluoroquinoline. Fluoroquinolones
    • Hib: rifampin Rifampin A semisynthetic antibiotic produced from streptomyces mediterranei. It has a broad antibacterial spectrum, including activity against several forms of Mycobacterium. In susceptible organisms it inhibits dna-dependent RNA polymerase activity by forming a stable complex with the enzyme. It thus suppresses the initiation of RNA synthesis. Rifampin is bactericidal, and acts on both intracellular and extracellular organisms. Epiglottitis

Prognosis Prognosis A prediction of the probable outcome of a disease based on a individual’s condition and the usual course of the disease as seen in similar situations. Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas

  • Viral meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis:
    • Full recovery in most cases, usually in 7–10 days
    • Morbidity Morbidity The proportion of patients with a particular disease during a given year per given unit of population. Measures of Health Status and mortality Mortality All deaths reported in a given population. Measures of Health Status data unclear
    • Minimal or no long-term effects noted
  •  Bacterial meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis

Differential Diagnosis

  • Brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease: intracranial abscesses usually originating from contiguous spread from sinusitis Sinusitis Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the mucosal lining of the paranasal sinuses. The condition usually occurs concurrently with inflammation of the nasal mucosa (rhinitis), a condition known as rhinosinusitis. Acute sinusitis is due to an upper respiratory infection caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal agent. Sinusitis, mastoiditis Mastoiditis Inflammation of the honeycomb-like mastoid bone in the skull just behind the ear. It is usually a complication of otitis media. Mumps Virus/Mumps or dental infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease, or due to skull Skull The skull (cranium) is the skeletal structure of the head supporting the face and forming a protective cavity for the brain. The skull consists of 22 bones divided into the viscerocranium (facial skeleton) and the neurocranium. Skull: Anatomy trauma. Clinical presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor is similar to meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis. Diagnosis by brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification imaging modalities and management  involves broad spectrum Broad Spectrum Macrolides and Ketolides antibiotics. Complications are related to pressure effects causing increased intracranial pressure Increased Intracranial Pressure Normal intracranial pressure (ICP) is defined as < 15 mm Hg, whereas pathologically increased ICP is any pressure ≥ 20 mm Hg. Increased ICP may result from several etiologies, including trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, mass lesions, cerebral edema, increased CSF production, and decreased CSF absorption. Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) and sepsis Sepsis Systemic inflammatory response syndrome with a proven or suspected infectious etiology. When sepsis is associated with organ dysfunction distant from the site of infection, it is called severe sepsis. When sepsis is accompanied by hypotension despite adequate fluid infusion, it is called septic shock. Sepsis and Septic Shock.
  • Hydrocephalus Hydrocephalus Excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the cranium which may be associated with dilation of cerebral ventricles, intracranial. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: a disturbance of the formation, flow Flow Blood flows through the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins in a closed, continuous circuit. Flow is the movement of volume per unit of time. Flow is affected by the pressure gradient and the resistance fluid encounters between 2 points. Vascular resistance is the opposition to flow, which is caused primarily by blood friction against vessel walls. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure and distribution of the cerebrospinal fluid Cerebrospinal Fluid A watery fluid that is continuously produced in the choroid plexus and circulates around the surface of the brain; spinal cord; and in the cerebral ventricles. Ventricular System: Anatomy leading to a build-up of CSF. It may be classified as communicating and non-communicating types. Infants present with difficulty feeding, irritability, reduced activity and lethargy Lethargy A general state of sluggishness, listless, or uninterested, with being tired, and having difficulty concentrating and doing simple tasks. It may be related to depression or drug addiction. Hyponatremia. Older children have headaches, neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia, blurred vision Blurred Vision Retinal Detachment and double vision Vision Ophthalmic Exam. Management is by medication or surgery.
  • Brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification tumors: the 2nd most common malignancy Malignancy Hemothorax in pediatrics and a leading cause of mortality Mortality All deaths reported in a given population. Measures of Health Status. Clinical symptoms may have a gradual onset and are related to increased intracranial pressure Increased Intracranial Pressure Normal intracranial pressure (ICP) is defined as < 15 mm Hg, whereas pathologically increased ICP is any pressure ≥ 20 mm Hg. Increased ICP may result from several etiologies, including trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, mass lesions, cerebral edema, increased CSF production, and decreased CSF absorption. Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) and include headaches, vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia and neurological deficits. Diagnosis is via imaging, and management is specific to tumor Tumor Inflammation type and location and may involve surgical resection, radiation Radiation Emission or propagation of acoustic waves (sound), electromagnetic energy waves (such as light; radio waves; gamma rays; or x-rays), or a stream of subatomic particles (such as electrons; neutrons; protons; or alpha particles). Osteosarcoma therapy or chemotherapy Chemotherapy Osteosarcoma.
  • Seizures Seizures A seizure is abnormal electrical activity of the neurons in the cerebral cortex that can manifest in numerous ways depending on the region of the brain affected. Seizures consist of a sudden imbalance that occurs between the excitatory and inhibitory signals in cortical neurons, creating a net excitation. The 2 major classes of seizures are focal and generalized. Seizures: uncontrolled excessive synchronous neuronal activity in the brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification causing sudden transient changes in motor Motor Neurons which send impulses peripherally to activate muscles or secretory cells. Nervous System: Histology function, sensation, behavior or mental status. They are classified primarily as generalized or focal. Diagnosis depends on history, exam and electroencephalography Electroencephalography Seizures findings. Management is directed at the underlying trigger Trigger The type of signal that initiates the inspiratory phase by the ventilator Invasive Mechanical Ventilation and medication as necessary.

References

  1. Levine, A. (2016). Meningitis in infants and children. In: Tintinalli, J. E., Stapczynski, J. S., Ma, O. J., Yealy, D. M., Meckler, G. D., Cline, D. M. (Eds.), Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education. 
  2. Meningitis bacteriana. (2007). Anales de Pediatria Continuada 5(1):22_29. 
  3. Muller, M. L. (2020). Pediatric bacterial meningitis: practice essentials, background, pathophysiology. Medscape. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/961497-overview
  4. Nasir, H., Afzal, M. F., Hamid, M.H., Laeeq, A. (2020). Diagnostic accuracy of cerebrospinal fluid lactate in confirmed cases of acute bacterial meningitis in children. Pak J Med Sci 36:1558–1561.
  5. Owens, B. D. M. (2021). Pediatric aseptic meningitis: background, pathophysiology, etiology. Medscape. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/972179-overview

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