Thursday, November 01, 2007


Differential diagnosis between viral and bacterial meningitis in children.

Differential diagnosis between viral and bacterial meningitis in children.

Eur J Emerg Med. 2007 Dec

De Cauwer HG, Eykens L, Hellinckx J, Mortelmans LJ.

aDepartment of Neurology bClinical Laboratory Departments of cPaediatrics dEmergency Medicine, Klina Regional Hospital, Brasschaat, Belgium.

OBJECTIVE: The differential diagnosis between viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis is often very difficult. The results of peripheral blood and spinal fluid analysis are not 100% accurate. We tried to find a useful 'bedside' decision-making tool, based on laboratory results readily available at the emergency department. METHODS: Retrospective study design. Analysis of a consecutive series of all children (age 0-15 years) admitted to the paediatric ward because of a viral or bacterial meningitis, in the period from 1997 to September 2005.

RESULTS: Seventy-one children with viral and 21 with bacterial meningitis were included. Bacterial meningitis occurred at much younger ages than viral meningitis. The paediatrician decided to administer antibiotics in 41 of 71 children with viral meningitis and in all children with bacterial meningitis. We developed a 'bacterial meningitis score' based on C-reactive protein in peripheral blood, as well as glucose and protein in cerebrospinal fluid. Using this score, we could distinguish 54 of 71 patients with viral meningitis from the group with bacterial meningitis. When the dispensing of antibiotics was based on this score, only 16 patients with viral meningitis would receive antibiotics.

CONCLUSION: We present a bedside bacterial meningitis score. Using this bacterial meningitis score as a decision-making tool, we would be able to avoid antibiotics in a large number of children with viral meningitis. As this gives a 100% success rate, thus guaranteeing that bacterial meningitis patients would receive the proper therapy, our bacterial meningitis score could be an accurate decision-support tool.

Emergency Medicine

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