Predictors of outcome in acute meningococcal infection in children

Crit Care Med. 1993 Mar;21(3):447-52. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199303000-00024.


Objectives: To develop a rapid and sensitive method for identification of patients at risk for organ system failure and death due to acute meningococcal infection, and to evaluate the reliability of the Pediatric Risk of Mortality score in predicting mortality rates from acute meningococcal infection.

Design: A prospective study which followed a retrospective analysis.

Setting: The Emergency Department and pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) of a university-affiliated children's hospital.

Patients: The hospital records of 86 pediatric patients with acute meningococcal infection during a 5-yr period (group 1) were reviewed. Twenty-two ICU patients (group 2) were then prospectively evaluated, and the occurrence rate of organ system failure was compared with that rate predicted by the model developed from the analysis of group 1.

Interventions: The occurrence of prognostic factors was compared with the development of organ system failure and death by Fisher's exact test and logistic regression analysis for patients in group 1. The mortality rates for groups 1 and 2 were compared with those rates that were predicted by the use of the Pediatric Risk of Mortality score.

Main results: Eighteen of 86 patients in group 1 developed organ system failure, and seven (8.1%) patients died. Logistic regression analysis found that the combination of circulatory insufficiency, peripheral WBC counts of < 10,000 cells/mm3, and coagulopathy best predicted organ system failure. Ten of 22 patients in group 2 developed organ system failure, and two died. All patients with organ system failure exhibited > or = 1 of three identified prognostic factors. The probability of organ system failure occurring was > .5 for nine of ten patients with organ system failure. A total of nine patients in groups 1 and 2 developed multiple organ system failure, and all nine patients died. Based on Pediatric Risk of Mortality scoring, the mortality risk for nonsurvivors ranged from 27% to 94%, compared with 1% to 48% for survivors. The overall mortality rate was consistent with that rate predicted by the Pediatric Risk of Mortality scoring system.

Conclusions: Patients with acute meningococcal infection who exhibit signs of circulatory insufficiency, a peripheral WBC count of < 10,000 cells/mm3, or a coagulopathy have a high probability of developing organ system failure. Death is highly probable when multiple organ system failure develops, and the overall mortality rate is accurately predicted by the Pediatric Risk of Mortality score.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Meningococcal Infections / mortality*
  • Multiple Organ Failure
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors