Evaluation and treatment of chronic meningitis

Neurohospitalist. 2014 Oct;4(4):185-95. doi: 10.1177/1941874414528940.


Chronic meningitis is defined as an inflammatory cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) profile that persists for at least 1 month. The presentation often includes headache, nausea, vomiting, cranial neuropathies, symptoms of elevated intracranial pressure, or focal neurologic deficits. The most common etiologies of chronic meningitis fall into 3 broad categories: infectious, autoimmune, and neoplastic. Evaluation of the patient with suspected chronic meningitis should include a detailed history and physical examination as well as repeated CSF diagnostics, serologic studies, and biopsy of the brain or other abnormal tissue (eg, lymph node or lung), when indicated. Early identification of the etiology and rapid treatment are crucial for improving morbidity and mortality, but potential infectious and neoplastic conditions should be excluded prior to empirically starting steroids or immunosuppressive medications.

Keywords: autoimmune diseases of the nervous system; central nervous system infections; encephalitis; meningitis; meningoencephalitis.