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African Health Sciences

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Central nervous system tuberculosis

A Cherian, SV Thomas

Abstract


Central nervous system (CNS) involvement, one of the most devastating clinical manifestations of tuberculosis (TB) is noted in 5 to 10% of extrapulmonary TB cases, and accounts for approximately 1% of all TB cases. Definitive diagnosis of tuberculous meningitis (TBM) depends upon the detection of the tubercle bacilli in the CSF. Every patient with TBM
should preferably be evaluated by imaging with contrast enhanced CT either before or within the first 48 hours of treatment. An extra-neural focus of tuberculosis should be sought clinically and radiologically in all patients with CNS TB as it may indicate safer and more accessible sites for diagnostic samplings. A minimum of 10 months treatment is warranted,
prompted by the uncertain influences of disease severity, CNS drug penetration, undetected drug resistance and patient compliance. All patients with TB meningitis may receive adjunctive corticosteroids at presentation regardless of disease severity even for those with HIV infection. Drug resistance is strongly associated with previous treatment. The key principle of managing drug-resistant TB is never to add a single drug to a failing regimen. Early ventriculo-peritoneal shunting
should be considered in those with hydrocephalus failing medical management. The single most important determinant of outcome is the stage of tuberculous meningitis at which treatment has been started.



AJOL African Journals Online