Introduction: Tuberculous (TB) meningitis is sometimes difficult to diagnose in young children. The decision to start anti-TB treatment of TB meningitis is usually made on clinical grounds and results of special investigations, such as cerebrospinal fluid examination and cranial computerized tomography (CT), because bacteriologic yield is low and the results delayed.
Aim: To determine whether the clinical, laboratory, and radiologic criteria used in the diagnosis of TB meningitis in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-uninfected children apply to HIV-infected children.
Methods: Retrospective, case-control study. Clinical, laboratory, and radiologic features of TB meningitis were compared in 34 HIV-infected and 56 HIV-uninfected patients matched for age and stage of TB meningitis.
Results: All clinical differences found between the 2 groups at admission were related to the underlying HIV disease. Neurologic presentation and cerebrospinal fluid findings at admission did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. Significantly more HIV-infected than HIV-uninfected children had evidence of TB on chest radiography. The classic CT signs of TB meningitis (obstructive hydrocephalus and basal enhancement) were significantly less prominent in the HIV-infected group (P < 005).
Conclusion: The diagnostic criteria for clinical diagnosis of TB meningitis apply to HIV-infected children. However, cranial CT findings in this group may be misleading and delay the diagnosis of TB meningitis.