Methods for rapid diagnosis of meningitis etiology in adults

Biomark Med. 2020 Apr;14(6):459-479. doi: 10.2217/bmm-2019-0333. Epub 2020 Apr 9.


Infectious meningitis can be caused by viral, bacterial or fungal pathogens. Despite widely available treatments, many types of infectious meningitis are still associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Delay in diagnosis contributes to poor outcomes. Cerebrospinal fluid cultures have been used traditionally but are time intensive and sensitivity is decreased by empiric treatment prior to culture. More rapid techniques such as the cryptococcal lateral flow assay (IMMY), GeneXpert MTB/Rif Ultra (Cepheid) and FilmArray multiplex-PCR (Biofire) are three examples that have drastically changed meningitis diagnostics. This review will discuss a holistic approach to diagnosing bacterial, mycobacterial, viral and fungal meningitis.

Keywords: aseptic meningitis; bacterial meningitis; cryptococcal meningitis; diagnosis; diagnostic testing; tuberculous meningitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures*
  • Humans
  • Meningitis / diagnosis*
  • Meningitis / epidemiology
  • Meningitis / etiology*
  • Time Factors