Movement disorders in bacterial meningitis

J Pediatr. 1986 Aug;109(2):260-4. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(86)80382-1.


Movement disorders developed in five children, ages 6 to 21 months, during the course of bacterial meningitis caused by Hemophilus influenzae (one), Streptococcus pneumoniae (one), Neisseria meningitidis (one), or Mycobacterium tuberculosis (two). Athetosis, choreoathetosis, and hemiballismus occurred, ranging in duration from hours to months. Cranial computed tomography, performed in four cases, showed no lesion of the basal ganglia. The movements were of such abrupt onset and severity that in four cases they were initially misinterpreted as seizures, and anticonvulsant therapy was contemplated. It is important to recognize the potential development of movement disorders during the acute phase of bacterial meningitis to preclude the inappropriate administration of anticonvulsant medication.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Athetosis / etiology
  • Basal Ganglia / diagnostic imaging
  • Chorea / etiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Haemophilus / complications*
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / complications*
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal / complications*
  • Movement Disorders / diagnosis
  • Movement Disorders / etiology*
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / complications*