An 11-month-old boy with tuberculous meningitis presenting as progressive limb weakness, fever, developmental retardation, and loss of consciousness: a case report

J Med Case Rep. 2024 Apr 27;18(1):210. doi: 10.1186/s13256-024-04523-1.


Background: Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) accounts for about 1% of all tuberculosis cases and about 5% of extrapulmonary tuberculosis cases. However, it poses major importance because approximately half of those affected die or become severely disabled. Herein, the successful treatment of an 11-month-old boy with progressive limb weakness, fever, developmental retardation, and loss of consciousness due to tuberculosis, was reported.

Case presentation: An 11-month-old (Iranian Turk) boy was referred to Loghman Hakim hospital for progressive limb weakness and loss of previously attained developmental milestones for the past 2 months. He also had persistent fever and loss of consciousness for about 14 to 21 days. Before being referred to our center, the patient had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus at another center due to possible acute bacterial meningitis based on a CT scan and MRI imaging. On physical examination, anterior fontanel bulging and neck stiffness were observed on the admission. His body temperature and heart rate were 38.1 C and 86 beats per minute (bpm), respectively. He had left 6 cranial nerve palsy and spastic quadriparesis with a power of grade 3/5. Other systemic examinations were normal. Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) (and leptomeningeal biopsy) revealed diffuse thickening of the floor and lateral walls of the 3rd ventricle and also a cobblestone appearance in the form of multiple white patchy lesions was detected on the floor of the 3rd ventricle. CSF analysis and polymerase chain reaction confirmed the TB meningitis. During hospitalization, a temporary EVD (external ventricular drain) was initially inserted. Eventually, defervescence was denoted 5-6 days after initiation of anti-TB medications, and a permanent ventriculoperitoneal shunt was inserted due to hydrocephalus. Gradually his truncal and limb tone and motor function improved, as did his emotional responses to his parents and ability to eat. The patient can walk without help in the 15th month following the operation and resolved hydrocephalus demonstrated on follow-up imaging.

Conclusion: Over half of treated TB meningitis patients die or suffer severe neurological sequelae, mainly due to late diagnosis. Hence, early diagnosis and prompt initiation of TB treatment offer the best chance of a good neurological outcome.

Keywords: Case report; Developmental retardation; Fever; Hydrocephalus; Limb weakness; Loss of consciousness; Meningitis; Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Fever* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Muscle Weakness* / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal* / complications
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal* / diagnosis
  • Unconsciousness / etiology
  • Ventriculostomy


  • Antitubercular Agents