Prospective study of computed tomography in acute bacterial meningitis

J Pediatr. 1987 Aug;111(2):201-5. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(87)80067-7.


We performed serial CT scans at the time of admission and discharge, and again after 6 to 18 months, in children older than 2 months of age with bacterial meningitis. During the 2-year study period, 60 patients with bacterial meningitis were admitted to British Columbia's Children's Hospital. Forty-one were included in the study, two of whom died soon after admission. The infecting organism was Haemophilus influenzae in 29, Neisseria meningitidis in six, and Streptococcus pneumoniae in six. Abnormalities on the first two CT scans included subdural effusion in eight patients, focal infarction in five, and pus in the basal cisterns in one. All patients with focal infarction or cisternal pus had hemiparesis. Marked cerebral edema was seen in the two patients who died. Transient mild dilation of the subarachnoid space was a common finding; the size of the ventricles or subarachnoid space was increased on the second scan in 29 of 36 patients, and decreased to normal on the third scan in 30 of 33 patients. Clinical management was not influenced by the CT findings, which failed to reveal any clinically significant abnormalities that were not suspected on neurologic examination.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Meningitis, Haemophilus / complications
  • Meningitis, Haemophilus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / complications
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal / complications
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*