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Neurologic complications of bacterial meningitis in adults

Daniel J Sexton, MD
Section Editor
Stephen B Calderwood, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna R Thorner, MD


Bacterial meningitis continues to result in substantial morbidity and mortality despite the availability of effective antimicrobial therapy. The risk of dying or of developing complications is related to the age and general health of the patient, to the causative pathogen, to the severity and duration of illness at the time of presentation, and occasionally to delays in the initiation of antibiotic therapy. (See "Initial therapy and prognosis of bacterial meningitis in adults".)

Complications due to bacterial meningitis can be divided into systemic and neurologic. Systemic complications, such as septic shock, disseminated intravascular coagulation, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and septic or reactive arthritis, are usually the consequence of the bacteremia that frequently accompanies meningitis [1].

The neurologic complications of bacterial meningitis include:

Impaired mental status

Increased intracranial pressure and cerebral edema

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 13, 2017.
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