Otitis in patients with Community-Acquired Bacterial Meningitis: A Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study

Clin Infect Dis. 2024 Apr 24:ciae221. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciae221. Online ahead of print.


Background: Otitis is commonly associated with community-acquired bacterial meningitis but role of ear surgery as treatment is debated. In this study, we investigated the impact of otitis and ear surgery on outcome of adults with community-acquired bacterial meningitis.

Methods: We analyzed episodes of adults with community-acquired bacterial meningitis from a nationwide prospective cohort study in the Netherlands, between March 2006 to July 2021.

Results: A total of 2,548 episodes of community-acquired bacterial meningitis were evaluated. Otitis was present in 696 episodes (27%). In these patients the primary causative pathogen was Streptococcus pneumoniae (615 of 696 [88%]), followed by Streptococcus pyogenes (5%) and Haemophilus influenzae (4%). In 519 of 632 otitis episodes (82%) an ear-nose-throat specialist was consulted, and surgery was performed in 287 of 519 (55%). The types of surgery performed were myringotomy with ventilation tube insertion in 110 of 287 episodes (38%), mastoidectomy in 103 of 287 (36%) and myringotomy alone in 74 of 287 (26%). Unfavorable outcome occurred in 210 of 696 episodes (30%) and in 65 of 696 episodes was fatal (9%). Otitis was associated with a favorable outcome in a multivariable analysis (odds ratio 0.74; 95% CI 0.59-0.92; p =0.008). There was no association between outcome and ear surgery.

Conclusions: Otitis is a common focus of infection in community-acquired bacterial meningitis in adults, with S. pneumoniae being the most common causative pathogen. Presence of otitis is associated with a favorable outcome. Ear surgery's impact on the outcome of otogenic meningitis patients remains uncertain.

Keywords: community-acquired bacterial meningitis; ear-nose-throat surgery; otitis; otogenic meningitis; otology.