Aseptic and Bacterial Meningitis: Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention.
Am Fam Physician. 2017 Sep 01;96(5):314-322
Authors: Mount HR, Boyle SD
The etiologies of meningitis range in severity from benign and self-limited to life-threatening with potentially severe morbidity. Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency that requires prompt recognition and treatment. Mortality remains high despite the introduction of vaccinations for common pathogens that have reduced the incidence of meningitis worldwide. Aseptic meningitis is the most common form of meningitis with an annual incidence of 7.6 per 100,000 adults. Most cases of aseptic meningitis are viral and require supportive care. Viral meningitis is generally self-limited with a good prognosis. Examination maneuvers such as Kernig sign or Brudzinski sign may not be useful to differentiate bacterial from aseptic meningitis because of variable sensitivity and specificity. Because clinical findings are also unreliable, the diagnosis relies on the examination of cerebrospinal fluid obtained from lumbar puncture. Delayed initiation of antibiotics can worsen mortality. Treatment should be started promptly in cases where transfer, imaging, or lumbar puncture may slow a definitive diagnosis. Empiric antibiotics should be directed toward the most likely pathogens and should be adjusted by patient age and risk factors. Dexamethasone should be administered to children and adults with suspected bacterial meningitis before or at the time of initiation of antibiotics. Vaccination against the most common pathogens that cause bacterial meningitis is recommended. Chemoprophylaxis of close contacts is helpful in preventing additional infections.
PMID: 28925647 [PubMed - in process]