The hospital records of 85 children with bacterial meningitis were reviewed and a subset of 25 children who underwent computed tomography of the head were identified. The major stated indications for computed tomography were fever (8 patients), seizures (4 patients), signs of increased intracranial pressure (4 patients), focal neurologic dysfunction (3 patients) and recurrent meningitis (2 patients). Abnormal findings were demonstrated by computed tomography in 20 of 25 patients but in 8 patients consisted solely of nonspecific dilatation of spaces containing cerebrospinal fluid or of basilar enhancement. The yield of information that was useful either diagnostically or therapeutically was low; positive findings of obvious clinical relevance were present in only 2 cases. Computed tomography provides an accurate means of diagnosing intracranial complications of bacterial meningitis. It must be used conservatively, however, to limit expense and radiation exposure and enhance the yield of potentially relevant information. Computed tomography is indicated for children with persistent neurologic dysfunction, persistently positive cerebrospinal fluid cultures or recurrent meningitis, whereas it is of little value for children with prolonged fever alone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases