Incidence, predictors and prognostic value of cranial nerve involvement in patients with tuberculous meningitis: a retrospective evaluation

Eur J Intern Med. 2011 Jun;22(3):289-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2011.01.007. Epub 2011 Feb 15.


Background: Cranial nerve involvement is commonly observed in patients with tuberculous meningitis. The present study evaluated the incidence, predictors and prognostic significance of cranial nerve involvement in tuberculous meningitis.

Materials and method: One hundred-fifty-eight adult patients with tuberculous meningitis were retrospectively evaluated and followed up for 9 months. A detailed clinical evaluation and cranial magnetic resonance imaging were done in every patient.

Result: At inclusion, 60 (38%) patients had cranial neuropathy. Sixteen patients were having involvement of two or more cranial nerves. Abducent nerve was the most frequently (32.3%) affected cranial nerve. Predictors of cranial nerve involvement were age >25 years, history of vomiting, altered sensorium, hemiparesis, diplopia, papilledema, signs of meningeal irritation, severe functional disability, cerebrospinal fluid protein >2.5 g/L and cerebrospinal fluid cell count >100/mm(3). The presence of optochiasmatic arachnoiditis and hydrocephalus was also a significant predictor of cranial neuropathy. Presence of cranial neuropathy was significantly associated with poor outcome.

Conclusion: Cranial nerve involvement occurred in more than one third of patients with tuberculous meningitis. The presence of cranial neuropathy was associated with poor outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases* / microbiology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases* / mortality
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases* / pathology
  • Cranial Nerves / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / mortality*


  • Antitubercular Agents