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Meningitis

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 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, the protective membranes of 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 causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of 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, altered mental status Altered Mental Status Sepsis in Children, and nuchal rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon. Diagnosis of meningitis is made on clinical grounds with a thorough neurologic examination. CSF analysis is an important diagnostic tool, as it is difficult to identify the exact cause clinically. Management of meningitis includes immediate broad-spectrum Broad-Spectrum Fluoroquinolones antibiotics and supportive therapy to prevent complications. Specific treatment depends on the etiology of meningitis. Delay in treatment can lead to permanent neurologic defects and death.

Last updated: Jun 28, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Overview

Definition

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 protective membranes of 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 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, collectively called the 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 is commonly caused by an acute infection.

Epidemiology

  • A significant decrease in frequency occurred after introduction of routine infant vaccinations against 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 and Pneumococcus.
  • Since 2010, the peak 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 of bacterial meningitis shifted from children < 5 years of age to adults.
  • Meningococcal meningitis is observed in crowded accommodations.
  • 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 is higher in developing countries owing to the lack of access to preventive measures.
  • Viral meningitis peaks in early fall and summer.
  • Meningitis can occur at any age and affects both sexes equally.

Etiology

Meningitis can be of infectious Infectious Febrile Infant (most common) or  noninfectious Noninfectious Febrile Infant origin. Infectious Infectious Febrile Infant meningitis can be community- or hospital-acquired.

Infectious Infectious Febrile Infant meningitis

Bacterial meningitis:

  • The most common cause of bacterial meningitis is 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.
  • Relative frequency Relative frequency Basics of Probability of occurrence varies according to the age group:
    • Neonates: 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, group B streptococci 
    • Infants and children: 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, 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 
    • Adults: 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 (Meningococcus), L. monocytogenes L. monocytogenes A species of gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria widely distributed in nature. It has been isolated from sewage, soil, silage, and from feces of healthy animals and man. Infection with this bacterium leads to encephalitis, meningitis, endocarditis, and abortion. Listeria Monocytogenes/Listeriosis  
  • Community-acquired bacterial meningitis is mainly caused by 5 organisms: 
    • S. pneumoniae (50%)
    • 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 (15%)
    • Group B streptococci (15%)
    • L. monocytogenes L. monocytogenes A species of gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria widely distributed in nature. It has been isolated from sewage, soil, silage, and from feces of healthy animals and man. Infection with this bacterium leads to encephalitis, meningitis, endocarditis, and abortion. Listeria Monocytogenes/Listeriosis (10%)
    • 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 (10%) 
  • Tubercular meningitis: 
    • Caused by 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
    • Prevalent in developing countries
    • Predisposing conditions are:
      • History of previous exposure to 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
      • AIDS AIDS Chronic HIV infection and depletion of CD4 cells eventually results in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which can be diagnosed by the presence of certain opportunistic diseases called AIDS-defining conditions. These conditions include a wide spectrum of bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections as well as several malignancies and generalized conditions. HIV Infection and AIDS
      • Young age (children)

Viral meningitis:

  • Enteroviruses: 
    • Coxsackievirus Coxsackievirus Coxsackievirus is a member of a family of viruses called Picornaviridae and the genus Enterovirus. Coxsackieviruses are single-stranded, positive-sense RNA viruses, and are divided into coxsackie group A and B viruses. Both groups of viruses cause upper respiratory infections, rashes, aseptic meningitis, or encephalitis. Coxsackievirus
    • Echovirus Echovirus Echoviruses are single-stranded positive-sense RNA viruses belonging to the genus Enterovirus. Transmission is most commonly through the fecal-oral route. The majority of patients are asymptomatic. Patients who are symptomatic can exhibit a wide range of illnesses ranging from nonspecific URIs and exanthems to severe and life-threatening illnesses. Echovirus
    • Human 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
  • HSV-2 
  • Arthropod-borne 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
  • HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs
  • 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

Fungal meningitis:

  • 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: most common cause of fungal meningitis
  • 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
  • Histoplasma Histoplasma Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by Histoplasma capsulatum, a dimorphic fungus. The fungus exists as a mold at low temperatures and as yeast at high temperatures. H. capsulatum is the most common endemic fungal infection in the US and is most prevalent in the midwestern and central states along the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. Histoplasma/Histoplasmosis capsulatum
  • Blastomyces Blastomyces Blastomycosis is an infection caused by inhalation of the spores of the fungus, Blastomyces. Blastomyces species thrive in moist soil and decaying material and are common in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the Great Lakes regions of the United States and Canada. Although most patients are asymptomatic, some can develop pneumonia. Blastomyces/Blastomycosis dermatitidis
  • Candida Candida Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis species

Parasitic meningitis:

  • Angiostrongylus cantonensis
  • Gnathostoma spinigerum 
  • Acanthamoeba spp.
  • Naegleria fowleri 
  • Taenia Taenia Taenia belong to the Cestoda class of helminths. Humans are infected with these tapeworms by eating undercooked beef (T. saginata) or pork (T. solium and T. asiatica). Taeniasis is often asymptomatic, but the ingestion of larvae can cause abdominal discomfort, nausea, and constipation or diarrhea. Taenia/Taeniasis solium 
  • Strongyloides stercoralis Strongyloides stercoralis A species of parasitic nematode widely distributed in tropical and subtropical countries. The females and their larvae inhabit the mucosa of the intestinal tract, where they cause ulceration and diarrhea. Strongyloidiasis

Noninfectious Noninfectious Febrile Infant meningitis

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes immune-complex deposition in organs, resulting in systemic manifestations. Women, particularly those of African American descent, are more commonly affected. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus ( SLE SLE Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes immune-complex deposition in organs, resulting in systemic manifestations. Women, particularly those of African American descent, are more commonly affected. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
  • Malignancy Malignancy Hemothorax
  • Sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis is a multisystem inflammatory disease that causes noncaseating granulomas. The exact etiology is unknown. Sarcoidosis usually affects the lungs and thoracic lymph nodes, but it can also affect almost every system in the body, including the skin, heart, and eyes, most commonly. Sarcoidosis 
  • NSAIDs NSAIDS Primary vs Secondary Headaches
  • IV immunoglobulins IV immunoglobulins Immunoglobulin preparations used in intravenous infusion, containing primarily immunoglobulin g. They are used to treat a variety of diseases associated with decreased or abnormal immunoglobulin levels including pediatric aids; primary hypergammaglobulinemia; scid; cytomegalovirus infections in transplant recipients, lymphocytic leukemia, chronic; kawasaki syndrome, infection in neonates, and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. DiGeorge Syndrome 
  • Behçet’s disease Behçet’s disease Rare chronic inflammatory disease involving the small blood vessels. It is of unknown etiology and characterized by mucocutaneous ulceration in the mouth and genital region and uveitis with hypopyon. The neuro-ocular form may cause blindness and death. Synovitis; thrombophlebitis; gastrointestinal ulcerations; retinal vasculitis; and optic atrophy may occur as well. Vasculitides

Risk factors

  • Unvaccinated individuals or those who have skipped vaccinations
  • Children < 5 years 
  • 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 with conditions like AIDS AIDS Chronic HIV infection and depletion of CD4 cells eventually results in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which can be diagnosed by the presence of certain opportunistic diseases called AIDS-defining conditions. These conditions include a wide spectrum of bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections as well as several malignancies and generalized conditions. HIV Infection and AIDS, diabetes Diabetes Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia and dysfunction of the regulation of glucose metabolism by insulin. Type 1 DM is diagnosed mostly in children and young adults as the result of autoimmune destruction of β cells in the pancreas and the resulting lack of insulin. Type 2 DM has a significant association with obesity and is characterized by insulin resistance. Diabetes Mellitus, SLE SLE Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes immune-complex deposition in organs, resulting in systemic manifestations. Women, particularly those of African American descent, are more commonly affected. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Immunosuppressant drugs
  • Pregnancy Pregnancy The status during which female mammals carry their developing young (embryos or fetuses) in utero before birth, beginning from fertilization to birth. Pregnancy: Diagnosis, Physiology, and Care 
  • Outbreaks Outbreaks Sudden increase in the incidence of a disease. The concept includes epidemics and pandemics. Influenza Viruses/Influenza commonly occur in community accommodation Accommodation Refractive Errors settings. 
  • Pneumococci:
    • Other pneumococcal 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: pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia, 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, otitis media
    • Splenectomy Splenectomy Surgical procedure involving either partial or entire removal of the spleen. Rupture of the Spleen, asplenia Asplenia Asplenia is the absence of splenic tissue or function and can stem from several factors ranging from congenital to iatrogenic. There is a distinction between anatomic asplenia, which is due to the surgical removal of the spleen, and functional asplenia, which is due to a condition that leads to splenic atrophy, infarct, congestion, or infiltrative disease. Asplenia 
    • Hypogammaglobulinemia Hypogammaglobulinemia Selective IgA Deficiency
    • Complement deficiency 
  • 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
    • Complement deficiency
    • B serotype
  • L. monocytogenes L. monocytogenes A species of gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria widely distributed in nature. It has been isolated from sewage, soil, silage, and from feces of healthy animals and man. Infection with this bacterium leads to encephalitis, meningitis, endocarditis, and abortion. Listeria Monocytogenes/Listeriosis
    • Neonates < 1 month
    • Pregnant women 
    • Individuals > 60 years 
    • 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
3d image of a group of gram-negative diplococci neisseria meningitides

3-dimensional (3D) image of a group of diplococcal gram-negative 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

Image: “A 3D image of a group of diplococcal, Gram-negative, 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, 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” by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. License: Public Domain

Pathophysiology

Direct inoculation of the infectious Infectious Febrile Infant agent into the 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 is rare in meningitis. Usually, infection at an adjacent or remote site spreads to 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.

Onset

Acute meningitis: 

  • Etiology: predominantly bacterial or viral
  • Symptoms develop in a few hours or within a day. 

Chronic meningitis:  

  • Etiology: bacterial, viral, parasitic, fungal, or noninfectious Noninfectious Febrile Infant 
  • Symptoms persist for > 4 weeks  
  • When taking a history, questions should be asked about recent travel, immune status, and animal exposure.

Pathogenesis of infectious Infectious Febrile Infant meningitis

  • 1st step is usually mucosal colonization Colonization Bacteriology.
  • Sites of colonization Colonization Bacteriology:
    • Skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions
    • Nasopharynx Nasopharynx The top portion of the pharynx situated posterior to the nose and superior to the soft palate. The nasopharynx is the posterior extension of the nasal cavities and has a respiratory function. Pharynx: Anatomy
    • Respiratory tract
    • GI tract 
    • Genitourinary tract 
  • Mechanisms of mucosal attachment Attachment The binding of virus particles to virus receptors on the host cell surface, facilitating virus entry into the cell. Virology vary depending on the organism:
    • 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: type 4 Type 4 Spinal Muscular Atrophy pili Pili Filamentous or elongated proteinaceous structures which extend from the cell surface in gram-negative bacteria that contain certain types of conjugative plasmid. These pili are the organs associated with genetic transfer and have essential roles in conjugation. Normally, only one or a few pili occur on a given donor cell. This preferred use of ‘pili’ refers to the sexual appendage, to be distinguished from bacterial fimbriae, also known as common pili, which are usually concerned with adhesion. Salmonella 
    • S. pneumoniae: platelet-activating factor receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors, laminin Laminin Large, noncollagenous glycoprotein with antigenic properties. It is localized in the basement membrane lamina lucida and functions to bind epithelial cells to the basement membrane. Evidence suggests that the protein plays a role in tumor invasion. Connective Tissue: Histology, polymeric immunoglobulin receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors
  • Secretion Secretion Coagulation Studies of IgA IgA Represents 15-20% of the human serum immunoglobulins, mostly as the 4-chain polymer in humans or dimer in other mammals. Secretory iga is the main immunoglobulin in secretions. Immunoglobulins: Types and Functions protease Protease Enzyme of the human immunodeficiency virus that is required for post-translational cleavage of gag and gag-pol precursor polyproteins into functional products needed for viral assembly. HIV protease is an aspartic protease encoded by the amino terminus of the pol gene. HIV Infection and AIDS by pathogens inactivates mucosal IgA IgA Represents 15-20% of the human serum immunoglobulins, mostly as the 4-chain polymer in humans or dimer in other mammals. Secretory iga is the main immunoglobulin in secretions. Immunoglobulins: Types and Functions and also helps epithelial attachment Attachment The binding of virus particles to virus receptors on the host cell surface, facilitating virus entry into the cell. Virology.
  • Organism invades the submucosa at the site of colonization Colonization Bacteriology and disrupts host defenses. The capsule Capsule An envelope of loose gel surrounding a bacterial cell which is associated with the virulence of pathogenic bacteria. Some capsules have a well-defined border, whereas others form a slime layer that trails off into the medium. Most capsules consist of relatively simple polysaccharides but there are some bacteria whose capsules are made of polypeptides. Bacteroides is an important virulence Virulence The degree of pathogenicity within a group or species of microorganisms or viruses as indicated by case fatality rates and/or the ability of the organism to invade the tissues of the host. The pathogenic capacity of an organism is determined by its virulence factors. Proteus factor in this process.
  • Viral pathogens usually multiply in regional lymph Lymph The interstitial fluid that is in the lymphatic system. Secondary Lymphatic Organs nodes before invading the bloodstream.
  • Invasion of the bloodstream and hematogenous Hematogenous Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) and Liver Metastases spread to the CNS is the most common pathway Common pathway Hemostasis
    • Polysaccharide capsule Capsule An envelope of loose gel surrounding a bacterial cell which is associated with the virulence of pathogenic bacteria. Some capsules have a well-defined border, whereas others form a slime layer that trails off into the medium. Most capsules consist of relatively simple polysaccharides but there are some bacteria whose capsules are made of polypeptides. Bacteroides of the main pathogens inhibits complement attachment Attachment The binding of virus particles to virus receptors on the host cell surface, facilitating virus entry into the cell. Virology and phagocytosis Phagocytosis The engulfing and degradation of microorganisms; other cells that are dead, dying, or pathogenic; and foreign particles by phagocytic cells (phagocytes). Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation.
    • Capsule Capsule An envelope of loose gel surrounding a bacterial cell which is associated with the virulence of pathogenic bacteria. Some capsules have a well-defined border, whereas others form a slime layer that trails off into the medium. Most capsules consist of relatively simple polysaccharides but there are some bacteria whose capsules are made of polypeptides. Bacteroides is the major factor in intravascular survival. 
  • Other CNS access pathways: 
    • Retrograde neuronal transmission through olfactory or peripheral nerves Peripheral Nerves The nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, including the autonomic, cranial, and spinal nerves. Peripheral nerves contain non-neuronal cells and connective tissue as well as axons. The connective tissue layers include, from the outside to the inside, the epineurium, the perineurium, and the endoneurium. Nervous System: Histology 
    • Direct contiguous spread (due to otitis, 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
    • Direct inoculation (rare)
    • Vertical transmission Vertical transmission The transmission of infectious disease or pathogens from one generation to another. It includes transmission in utero or intrapartum by exposure to blood and secretions, and postpartum exposure via breastfeeding. Congenital TORCH Infections in newborns (from mother)
  • Organism seeds the 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
  • Body defenses act against the pathogen to induce 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, causing a cascade of events, including 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 of the 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 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 parenchyma.
  • Parenchymal 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 increases the intracranial pressure Intracranial Pressure Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, which worsens the symptoms.

Clinical Presentation

Adults

  • The classic triad of symptoms:
    1. Altered mental status Altered Mental Status Sepsis in Children (Glasgow coma Coma Coma is defined as a deep state of unarousable unresponsiveness, characterized by a score of 3 points on the GCS. A comatose state can be caused by a multitude of conditions, making the precise epidemiology and prognosis of coma difficult to determine. Coma scale Scale Dermatologic Examination score, < 14)
    2. 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 > 38℃
    3. Stiff neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess
  • Severe 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
  • 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 and drowsiness 
  • Nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics and vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia 
  • 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 
  • Aphasia Aphasia A cognitive disorder marked by an impaired ability to comprehend or express language in its written or spoken form. This condition is caused by diseases which affect the language areas of the dominant hemisphere. Clinical features are used to classify the various subtypes of this condition. General categories include receptive, expressive, and mixed forms of aphasia. Ischemic Stroke 
  • Hemiparesis Hemiparesis The term hemiparesis refers to mild to moderate weakness involving one side of the body. Epidural Hemorrhage or monoparesis 
  • 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 
  • Ataxia Ataxia Impairment of the ability to perform smoothly coordinated voluntary movements. This condition may affect the limbs, trunk, eyes, pharynx, larynx, and other structures. Ataxia may result from impaired sensory or motor function. Sensory ataxia may result from posterior column injury or peripheral nerve diseases. Motor ataxia may be associated with cerebellar diseases; cerebral cortex diseases; thalamic diseases; basal ganglia diseases; injury to the red nucleus; and other conditions. Ataxia-telangiectasia 
  • Cranial nerve palsies Cranial Nerve Palsies Cranial nerve palsy is a congenital or acquired dysfunction of 1 or more cranial nerves that will, in turn, lead to focal neurologic abnormalities in movement or autonomic dysfunction of its territory. Head/neck trauma, mass effect, infectious processes, and ischemia/infarction are among the many etiologies for these dysfunctions. Diagnosis is initially clinical and supported by diagnostic aids. Management includes both symptomatic measures and interventions aimed at correcting the underlying cause. Cranial Nerve Palsies 
  • Nystagmus Nystagmus Involuntary movements of the eye that are divided into two types, jerk and pendular. Jerk nystagmus has a slow phase in one direction followed by a corrective fast phase in the opposite direction, and is usually caused by central or peripheral vestibular dysfunction. Pendular nystagmus features oscillations that are of equal velocity in both directions and this condition is often associated with visual loss early in life. Albinism 
  • Rash Rash Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever 
  • 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 ( swelling Swelling Inflammation of 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)
  • Meningitis due to L. monocytogenes L. monocytogenes A species of gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria widely distributed in nature. It has been isolated from sewage, soil, silage, and from feces of healthy animals and man. Infection with this bacterium leads to encephalitis, meningitis, endocarditis, and abortion. Listeria Monocytogenes/Listeriosis:
    • Increased tendency to have 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
    • Focal neurologic defects early in the infection
  • Meningitis due to 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
    • Skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions manifestations: petechiae Petechiae Primary Skin Lesions, palpable purpura
    • Arthritis Arthritis Acute or chronic inflammation of joints. Osteoarthritis
Symptoms of meningitis

Clinical presentation of meningitis

Image: “Main symptoms of Meningitis” by Mikael Häggström. License: Public Domain

Newborns

  • High 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 
  • Irritability (constant crying) 
  • Excessive drowsiness 
  • Difficulty waking up
  • 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 
  • Poor feeding 
  • Vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia 
  • Bulge in the anterior 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
  • Stiff body and neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess

Diagnosis

History

  • Acute:
    • Preceding respiratory illness
    • Otitis/ 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
    • Immunodeficiency Immunodeficiency Chédiak-Higashi Syndrome/ HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs
    • Acute onset with quick symptom development (often < 24 hours)
  • Chronic:
    • Recent travel
    • Residence in certain endemic areas (e.g., coccidioidomycosis Coccidioidomycosis 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)
    • Exposure to animals Animals Unicellular or multicellular, heterotrophic organisms, that have sensation and the power of voluntary movement. Under the older five kingdom paradigm, animalia was one of the kingdoms. Under the modern three domain model, animalia represents one of the many groups in the domain eukaryota. Cell Types: Eukaryotic versus Prokaryotic
    • 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 or positive tuberculin Tuberculin A protein extracted from boiled culture of tubercle bacilli (Mycobacterium tuberculosis). It is used in the tuberculin skin test (tuberculin test) for the diagnosis of tuberculosis infection in asymptomatic persons. Type IV Hypersensitivity Reaction skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions test
    • Sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis is a multisystem inflammatory disease that causes noncaseating granulomas. The exact etiology is unknown. Sarcoidosis usually affects the lungs and thoracic lymph nodes, but it can also affect almost every system in the body, including the skin, heart, and eyes, most commonly. Sarcoidosis

Physical exam

  • 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
  • Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship appear ill.
  • Signs of meningeal irritation Meningeal Irritation Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (low sensitivity for acute meningitis):
    • Kernig sign:
      • The patient is placed in a supine position or is seated on a chair. 
      • The hip and knees are flexed to 90 degrees and an attempt is made to extend the knee.
      • Maneuver causes pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways in the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess or back.
    • Nuchal rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon:
      • The patient is placed in a supine position. 
      • The patient’s chest is supported with 1 hand Hand The hand constitutes the distal part of the upper limb and provides the fine, precise movements needed in activities of daily living. It consists of 5 metacarpal bones and 14 phalanges, as well as numerous muscles innervated by the median and ulnar nerves. Hand: Anatomy while the other is kept under the occiput.
      • The chin Chin The anatomical frontal portion of the mandible, also known as the mentum, that contains the line of fusion of the two separate halves of the mandible (symphysis menti). This line of fusion divides inferiorly to enclose a triangular area called the mental protuberance. On each side, inferior to the second premolar tooth, is the mental foramen for the passage of blood vessels and a nerve. Melasma is moved toward the sternum Sternum A long, narrow, and flat bone commonly known as breastbone occurring in the midsection of the anterior thoracic segment or chest region, which stabilizes the rib cage and serves as the point of origin for several muscles that move the arms, head, and neck. Chest Wall: Anatomy.
      • Reflex contraction of neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscle prevents the patient’s chin Chin The anatomical frontal portion of the mandible, also known as the mentum, that contains the line of fusion of the two separate halves of the mandible (symphysis menti). This line of fusion divides inferiorly to enclose a triangular area called the mental protuberance. On each side, inferior to the second premolar tooth, is the mental foramen for the passage of blood vessels and a nerve. Melasma from touching the chest.
    • Brudzinski sign: 
  • Cushing reflex Cushing Reflex Epidural Hemorrhage
    • Widened pulse pressure, bradycardia Bradycardia Bradyarrhythmia is a rhythm in which the heart rate is less than 60/min. Bradyarrhythmia can be physiologic, without symptoms or hemodynamic change. Pathologic bradyarrhythmia results in reduced cardiac output and hemodynamic instability causing syncope, dizziness, or dyspnea. Bradyarrhythmias, and irregular respirations  
    • Indicative of 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)
  • 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 
  • Abducens (6th nerve) palsy Palsy paralysis of an area of the body, thus incapable of voluntary movement Cranial Nerve Palsies

Laboratory analysis

  • CBC:
    • Elevated WBC count
    • Differential diagnosis may help determine etiology:
      • Neutrophil proliferation in bacterial meningitis
      • Increase in lymphocytes Lymphocytes Lymphocytes are heterogeneous WBCs involved in immune response. Lymphocytes develop from the bone marrow, starting from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and progressing to common lymphoid progenitors (CLPs). B and T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells arise from the lineage. Lymphocytes: Histology in viral or fungal meningitis
  • Blood culture: to identify the cause of meningitis and test for antibiotic sensitivity
  • CMP: 
    • Compare 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 with 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 levels.
    • Assess for metabolic disturbances.
    • Assess for organ dysfunction. 
  • HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs test: Test for immune status if there is no history of other 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 conditions.
  • Coagulation profile (PT, PTT) prior to lumbar puncture Lumbar Puncture Febrile Infant
    • Chronic alcohol use
    • Chronic liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy disease
    • Suspected DIC DIC Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition characterized by systemic bodywide activation of the coagulation cascade. This cascade results in both widespread microvascular thrombi contributing to multiple organ dysfunction and consumption of clotting factors and platelets, leading to hemorrhage. Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation

CSF analysis

  • Lumbar puncture Lumbar Puncture Febrile Infant is performed in all patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with suspected meningitis unless contraindicated, such as with 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) or suspicion of a mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast lesion.
  • CSF analysis establishes a definite diagnosis and aids AIDS Chronic HIV infection and depletion of CD4 cells eventually results in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which can be diagnosed by the presence of certain opportunistic diseases called AIDS-defining conditions. These conditions include a wide spectrum of bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections as well as several malignancies and generalized conditions. HIV Infection and AIDS in the provision of appropriate treatment. CSF is tested for:
    • Opening pressure
    • Leukocyte count
    • Differential leukocyte count
    • 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 levels 
    • Protein 
    • 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 
    • Culture and sensitivity

Imaging

Imaging is not required for diagnosis but is usually indicated before performing a lumbar puncture Lumbar Puncture Febrile Infant if there is a concern about high intracranial pressure Intracranial Pressure Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension and to detect complications. 

  • CT or MRI can be performed.
  • Usually indicated in:
    • 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 state 
    • History of neurologic disease (lesion/stroke/focal infection)
    • Seizure within 1 week of presentation 
    • 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 
    • Altered consciousness 
    • Focal neurologic deficit Focal Neurologic Deficit Intracerebral Hemorrhage: dilated, nonreactive pupil Pupil The pupil is the space within the eye that permits light to project onto the retina. Anatomically located in front of the lens, the pupil’s size is controlled by the surrounding iris. The pupil provides insight into the function of the central and autonomic nervous systems. Pupil: Physiology and Abnormalities/gaze palsy Palsy paralysis of an area of the body, thus incapable of voluntary movement Cranial Nerve Palsies/ arm Arm The arm, or “upper arm” in common usage, is the region of the upper limb that extends from the shoulder to the elbow joint and connects inferiorly to the forearm through the cubital fossa. It is divided into 2 fascial compartments (anterior and posterior). Arm: Anatomy or leg Leg The lower leg, or just “leg” in anatomical terms, is the part of the lower limb between the knee and the ankle joint. The bony structure is composed of the tibia and fibula bones, and the muscles of the leg are grouped into the anterior, lateral, and posterior compartments by extensions of fascia. Leg: Anatomy drift
    • To detect complications:
      • Hydrocephalus Hydrocephalus Excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the cranium which may be associated with dilation of cerebral ventricles, intracranial. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage 
      • Cerebral infarct Infarct Area of necrotic cells in an organ, arising mainly from hypoxia and ischemia Ischemic Cell Damage 
      • 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 
      • Subdural empyema Empyema Presence of pus in a hollow organ or body cavity. Pneumonia 
      • Venous sinus thrombosis Thrombosis Formation and development of a thrombus or blood clot in the blood vessel. Epidemic Typhus
Meningeal irritation evident on contrast-enhanced mri

Meningeal irritation Meningeal Irritation Subarachnoid Hemorrhage evident on contrast-enhanced MRI Contrast-enhanced MRI Imaging of the Head and Brain

Image: “Damaged 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” by National Institutes of Health (NIH). License: Public Domain

Management and Prevention

Management

Treatment is based on the type of meningitis. Supportive care is common for most patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship. Broad-spectrum Broad-Spectrum Fluoroquinolones antibiotics are usually administered as an immediate measure while the cause is being determined.

Bacterial meningitis:

  • Antibiotics should not be delayed while awaiting results of CT scan or lumbar puncture Lumbar Puncture Febrile Infant.
  • Initially, broad-spectrum Broad-Spectrum Fluoroquinolones antibiotics are given.
  • Later, antibiotics are adjusted based on culture and sensitivity:
  • IV administration is used for maximum efficacy.
  • Penetration Penetration X-rays of 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 is facilitated by active 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
  • Intrathecal administration of antibiotics is considered in patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship who are unresponsive to IV antibiotics or in nosocomial meningitis.
  • Duration depends on the patient’s response and the pathogen.
  • Steroid administration: 
    • Corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis, especially dexamethasone Dexamethasone An anti-inflammatory 9-fluoro-glucocorticoid. Antiemetics, are used as an adjunctive treatment for bacterial meningitis  
    • Decreases mortality Mortality All deaths reported in a given population. Measures of Health Status
    • Decreases rate of neurologic complications (e.g., 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)
  • Supportive management: 
    • Administration of IV fluids IV fluids Intravenous fluids are one of the most common interventions administered in medicine to approximate physiologic bodily fluids. Intravenous fluids are divided into 2 categories: crystalloid and colloid solutions. Intravenous fluids have a wide variety of indications, including intravascular volume expansion, electrolyte manipulation, and maintenance fluids. Intravenous Fluids 
    • Bed rest 
    • Analgesics 
    • Antipyretics 
    • Anticonvulsants in care 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
    • Immunoglobulin administration in immunodeficient patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship

Viral meningitis: 

Viral meningitis is usually self-limiting Self-Limiting Meningitis in Children and requires only supportive management. Antiviral Antiviral Antivirals for Hepatitis B therapy is indicated only in selected and/or severe cases. 

  • Supportive management: 
    • Administration of IV fluids IV fluids Intravenous fluids are one of the most common interventions administered in medicine to approximate physiologic bodily fluids. Intravenous fluids are divided into 2 categories: crystalloid and colloid solutions. Intravenous fluids have a wide variety of indications, including intravascular volume expansion, electrolyte manipulation, and maintenance fluids. Intravenous Fluids 
    • Bed rest 
    • Analgesics 
    • Antipyretics 
    • Anticonvulsants in care 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
    • Immunoglobulin administration in immunodeficient patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship
  • Indications of antiviral Antiviral Antivirals for Hepatitis B therapy:
    • Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs 
    • Herpes simplex Herpes Simplex A group of acute infections caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 or type 2 that is characterized by the development of one or more small fluid-filled vesicles with a raised erythematous base on the skin or mucous membrane. It occurs as a primary infection or recurs due to a reactivation of a latent infection. Congenital TORCH Infections meningitis: acyclovir Acyclovir A guanosine analog that acts as an antimetabolite. Viruses are especially susceptible. Used especially against herpes. Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
    • Cytomegalovirus Cytomegalovirus CMV is a ubiquitous double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the Herpesviridae family. CMV infections can be transmitted in bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, urine, semen, and breast milk. The initial infection is usually asymptomatic in the immunocompetent host, or it can present with symptoms of mononucleosis. Cytomegalovirus meningitis: ganciclovir Ganciclovir An acyclovir analog that is a potent inhibitor of the herpesvirus family including cytomegalovirus. Ganciclovir is used to treat complications from aids-associated cytomegalovirus infections. Antivirals for Herpes Virus, foscarnet Foscarnet An antiviral agent used in the treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis. Foscarnet also shows activity against human herpesviruses and HIV. Antivirals for Herpes Virus 
    • Cases associated with 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 

Fungal meningitis: 

  • The most common type is cryptococcal meningitis Cryptococcal meningitis Meningeal inflammation produced by cryptococcus neoformans, an encapsulated yeast that tends to infect individuals with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and other immunocompromised states. The organism enters the body through the respiratory tract, but symptomatic infections are usually limited to the lungs and nervous system. The organism may also produce parenchymal brain lesions (torulomas). Clinically, the course is subacute and may feature headache; nausea; photophobia; focal neurologic deficits; seizures; cranial neuropathies; and hydrocephalus. Cryptococcus/Cryptococcosis.
  • Antifungal Antifungal Azoles drugs administered are:
    • Amphotericin B Amphotericin B Macrolide antifungal antibiotic produced by streptomyces nodosus obtained from soil of the orinoco river region of venezuela. Polyenes 
    • Fluconazole Fluconazole Triazole antifungal agent that is used to treat oropharyngeal candidiasis and cryptococcal meningitis in aids. Azoles 
    • Itraconazole Itraconazole A triazole antifungal agent that inhibits cytochrome p-450-dependent enzymes required for ergosterol synthesis. Azoles 
  • Raised intracranial pressure Intracranial Pressure Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension is a common complication of fungal meningitis and is managed by:
    • Regular Regular Insulin lumbar punctures to drain the excess fluid 
    • Placement of a lumbar drain 

Other types of meningitis: 

  • Tubercular meningitis is treated with antitubercular therapy:
    • Isoniazid Isoniazid Antibacterial agent used primarily as a tuberculostatic. It remains the treatment of choice for tuberculosis. Antimycobacterial Drugs, 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, pyrazinamide Pyrazinamide A pyrazine that is used therapeutically as an antitubercular agent. Antimycobacterial Drugs, ethambutol Ethambutol An antitubercular agent that inhibits the transfer of mycolic acids into the cell wall of the tubercle Bacillus. It may also inhibit the synthesis of spermidine in mycobacteria. The action is usually bactericidal, and the drug can penetrate human cell membranes to exert its lethal effect. Antimycobacterial Drugs, streptomycin 
    • Recommended duration of treatment is 9–12 months.
  • Parasitic meningitis: 
    • Antimicrobials: amphotericin B Amphotericin B Macrolide antifungal antibiotic produced by streptomyces nodosus obtained from soil of the orinoco river region of venezuela. Polyenes, miconazole Miconazole An imidazole antifungal agent that is used topically and by intravenous infusion. Azoles, 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, miltefosine Miltefosine Leishmania/Leishmaniasis
    • Parasitic meningitis is fatal, and immediate treatment is essential.
    • The drugs are administered in high doses, and some are administered intrathecally. 
  • Noninfectious Noninfectious Febrile Infant meningitis:
    • Allergic or autoimmune meningitis is managed with corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis.
    • Meningitis due to cancer is managed by treating the underlying condition.

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

  • Mortality Mortality All deaths reported in a given population. Measures of Health Status increases with age:
    • 18–34 years old: Case fatality is 8.9%.
    • > 65 years old: Case fatality is 22.7%.
  • Neurologic complications ( 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, intellectual impairment, focal deficits) affect Affect The feeling-tone accompaniment of an idea or mental representation. It is the most direct psychic derivative of instinct and the psychic representative of the various bodily changes by means of which instincts manifest themselves. Psychiatric Assessment up to 28% of patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship.

Prevention

Vaccinations can protect against certain types of meningitis: 

  • 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) vaccine Vaccine Suspensions of killed or attenuated microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa), antigenic proteins, synthetic constructs, or other bio-molecular derivatives, administered for the prevention, amelioration, or treatment of infectious and other diseases. Vaccination 
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine Vaccine Suspensions of killed or attenuated microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa), antigenic proteins, synthetic constructs, or other bio-molecular derivatives, administered for the prevention, amelioration, or treatment of infectious and other diseases. Vaccination 
  • Meningococcal vaccine Vaccine Suspensions of killed or attenuated microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa), antigenic proteins, synthetic constructs, or other bio-molecular derivatives, administered for the prevention, amelioration, or treatment of infectious and other diseases. Vaccination

Differential Diagnosis

  • Stroke: damage to 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 due to interrupted blood supply: Stroke presents with neurologic defects, blurred vision Blurred Vision Retinal Detachment, slurred speech Slurred Speech Cerebellar Disorders, and paresthesia. Stroke is diagnosed by history, neurologic examination, and imaging. Management depends on the type of stroke. 
  • 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: collection of pus in response to an infection or trauma: 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 presents with 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, 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, nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics, and vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia. Diagnosed by evaluation of signs and symptoms, blood tests, and imaging. Management includes antibiotic therapy and surgery to drain the abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease
  • 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: 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 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 parenchyma due to infection: 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 presents with 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, pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways in muscles and joints, and fatigue Fatigue The state of weariness following a period of exertion, mental or physical, characterized by a decreased capacity for work and reduced efficiency to respond to stimuli. Fibromyalgia. Diagnosed by imaging, CSF analysis, lab tests, and electroencephalography Electroencephalography Seizures. 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 rarely presents with nuchal rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon and 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. 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 are common. Supportive management, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antiviral Antiviral Antivirals for Hepatitis B drugs are used to manage 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
  • Subdural empyema Empyema Presence of pus in a hollow organ or body cavity. Pneumonia: collection of pus between the dura mater Dura mater The outermost of the three meninges, a fibrous membrane of connective tissue that covers the brain and the spinal cord. Meninges: Anatomy and the arachnoid mater Arachnoid mater A delicate membrane enveloping the brain and spinal cord. It lies between the pia mater and the dura mater. It is separated from the pia mater by the subarachnoid cavity which is filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Meninges: Anatomy: Subdural empyema Empyema Presence of pus in a hollow organ or body cavity. Pneumonia presents with 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, 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, focal neurologic deficits Neurologic Deficits High-Risk Headaches, and 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. This condition is diagnosed by imaging, most commonly with contrast-enhanced MRI Contrast-enhanced MRI Imaging of the Head and Brain. Subdural empyema Empyema Presence of pus in a hollow organ or body cavity. Pneumonia is managed surgically and with antibiotics.
  • Delirium Delirium Delirium is a medical condition characterized by acute disturbances in attention and awareness. Symptoms may fluctuate during the course of a day and involve memory deficits and disorientation. Delirium tremens: severe form of ethanol Ethanol A clear, colorless liquid rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and distributed throughout the body. It has bactericidal activity and is used often as a topical disinfectant. It is widely used as a solvent and preservative in pharmaceutical preparations as well as serving as the primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol Metabolism withdrawal that presents clinically with global confusion, agitation Agitation A feeling of restlessness associated with increased motor activity. This may occur as a manifestation of nervous system drug toxicity or other conditions. St. Louis Encephalitis Virus, hallucinations Hallucinations Subjectively experienced sensations in the absence of an appropriate stimulus, but which are regarded by the individual as real. They may be of organic origin or associated with mental disorders. Schizophrenia, 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 diaphoresis. Diagnosis of delirium Delirium Delirium is a medical condition characterized by acute disturbances in attention and awareness. Symptoms may fluctuate during the course of a day and involve memory deficits and disorientation. Delirium tremens is made by history and signs and symptoms and management is with supportive therapy and thiamine Thiamine Also known as thiamine or thiamin, it is a vitamin C12H17N4OSCl of the vitamin B complex that is essential to normal metabolism and nerve function and is widespread in plants and animals Water-soluble Vitamins and their Deficiencies
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a type of cerebrovascular accident (stroke) resulting from intracranial hemorrhage into the subarachnoid space between the arachnoid and the pia mater layers of the meninges surrounding the brain. Most SAHs originate from a saccular aneurysm in the circle of Willis but may also occur as a result of trauma, uncontrolled hypertension, vasculitis, anticoagulant use, or stimulant use. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: bleeding within the subarachnoid space Subarachnoid space The space between the arachnoid membrane and pia mater, filled with cerebrospinal fluid. It contains large blood vessels that supply the brain and spinal cord. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage that occurs spontaneously or following 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: Subarachnoid hemorrhage Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a type of cerebrovascular accident (stroke) resulting from intracranial hemorrhage into the subarachnoid space between the arachnoid and the pia mater layers of the meninges surrounding the brain. Most SAHs originate from a saccular aneurysm in the circle of Willis but may also occur as a result of trauma, uncontrolled hypertension, vasculitis, anticoagulant use, or stimulant use. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage presents with neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess and shoulder pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, numbness throughout the body, 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, confusion and irritability, diplopia Diplopia A visual symptom in which a single object is perceived by the visual cortex as two objects rather than one. Disorders associated with this condition include refractive errors; strabismus; oculomotor nerve diseases; trochlear nerve diseases; abducens nerve diseases; and diseases of the brain stem and occipital lobe. Myasthenia Gravis, and sudden 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. Diagnosis is by history, signs and symptoms, imaging, and cerebral angiography Cerebral angiography Radiography of the vascular system of the brain after injection of a contrast medium. Carotid Artery Stenosis. Subarachnoid hemorrhage Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a type of cerebrovascular accident (stroke) resulting from intracranial hemorrhage into the subarachnoid space between the arachnoid and the pia mater layers of the meninges surrounding the brain. Most SAHs originate from a saccular aneurysm in the circle of Willis but may also occur as a result of trauma, uncontrolled hypertension, vasculitis, anticoagulant use, or stimulant use. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage is managed surgically. Antihypertensive agents are recommended.

References

  1. Hasbun R. (2021). Pathogenesis and pathophysiology of bacterial meningitis. UpToDate. Retrieved April 26, 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/pathogenesis-and-pathophysiology-of-bacterial-meningitis
  2. Cassoobhoy A. (2020). Meningitis. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/children/understanding-meningitis-basics#2-7
  3. Hasbun R. (2019). Meningitis. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/232915-overview#a3
  4. Mayo Clinic. (2020). Meningitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350508
  5. Meningitis (2017). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/meningitis#symptoms
  6. Chabria SB, Patel M. (2019). Bacterial meningitis in adults. VisualDx. https://www.visualdx.com/visualdx/diagnosis/bacterial+meningitis?diagnosisId=50164&moduleId=101
  7. Hasbun R. (2021). Clinical features and diagnosis of bacterial meningitis in adults. UpToDate. Retrieved April 26, 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-features-and-diagnosis-of-acute-bacterial-meningitis-in-adults

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