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Open Access Research article

Arthritis in adults with community-acquired bacterial meningitis: a prospective cohort study

Martijn Weisfelt1*, Diederik van de Beek1, Lodewijk Spanjaard2 and Jan de Gans1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Centre of Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Medical Microbiology, Centre of Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:64  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-64

Published: 29 March 2006

Abstract

Background

Although the coexistence of bacterial meningitis and arthritis has been noted in several studies, it remains unclear how often both conditions occur simultaneously.

Methods

We evaluated the presence of arthritis in a prospective nationwide cohort of 696 episodes of community-acquired bacterial meningitis, confirmed by culture of cerebrospinal fluid, which occurred in patients aged >16 years. The diagnosis of arthritis was based upon the judgment of the treating physician. To identify differences between groups Fisher exact statistics and the Mann-Whitney U test were used.

Results

Arthritis was recorded in 48 of 696 (7%) episodes of community-acquired bacterial meningitis in adults. Joint-fluid aspirations were performed in 23 of 48 patients (48%) and joint-fluid cultures yielded bacteria in 6 of 23 patients (26%). Arthritis occurred most frequently in patients with meningococcal meningitis (12%). Of the 48 patients with bacterial meningitis and coexisting arthritis, four died (8%) and 10 (23%) had residual joint symptoms.

Conclusion

Arthritis is a common manifestation in patients with community-acquired bacterial meningitis. Functional outcome of arthritis in bacterial meningitis is generally good because meningococcal arthritis is usually immune-mediated, and pneumococcal arthritis is generally less deforming than staphylococcal arthritis. Nevertheless, additional therapeutic measures should be considered if clinical course is complicated by arthritis. In patients with infectious arthritis prolonged antibiotic therapy is mandatory.