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Open Access Research article

Hyperglycemia in bacterial meningitis: a prospective cohort study

Ewout S Schut1, Willeke F Westendorp1, Jan de Gans1, Nyika D Kruyt1, Lodewijk Spanjaard23, Johannes B Reitsma4 and Diederik van de Beek1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Center of Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Department of Medical Microbiology, Center of Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3 Netherlands Reference Laboratory for Bacterial Meningitis, Center of Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

4 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Center of Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:57  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-57

Published: 8 May 2009

Abstract

Background

Hyperglycemia has been associated with unfavorable outcome in several disorders, but few data are available in bacterial meningitis. We assessed the incidence and significance of hyperglycemia in adults with bacterial meningitis.

Methods

We collected data prospectively between October 1998 and April 2002, on 696 episodes of community-acquired bacterial meningitis, confirmed by culture of CSF in patients >16 years. Patients were dichotomized according to blood glucose level on admission. A cutoff random non-fasting blood glucose level of 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL) was used to define hyperglycemia, and a cutoff random non-fasting blood glucose level of 11.1 mmol/L (200 mg/dL) was used to define severe hyperglycemia. Unfavorable outcome was defined on the Glasgow outcome scale as a score <5. We also evaluated characteristics of patients with a preadmission diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.

Results

69% of patients were hyperglycemic and 25% severely hyperglycemic on admission. Compared with non-hyperglycemic patients, hyperglycemia was related with advanced age (median, 55 yrs vs. 44 yrs, P < 0.0001), preadmission diagnosis of diabetes (9% vs. 3%, P = 0.005), and distant focus of infection (37% vs. 28%, P = 0.02). They were more often admitted in coma (16% vs. 8%; P = 0.004) and with pneumococcal meningitis (55% vs. 42%, P = 0.007). These differences remained significant after exclusion of patients with known diabetes. Hyperglycemia was related with unfavorable outcome in a univariate analysis but this relation did not remain robust in a multivariate analysis. Factors predictive for neurologic compromise were related with higher blood glucose levels, whereas factors predictive for systemic compromise were related with lower blood glucose levels. Only a minority of severely hyperglycemic patients were known diabetics (19%). The vast majority of these known diabetic patients had meningitis due to Streptococcus pneumoniae (67%) or Listeria monocytogenes (13%) and they were at high risk for unfavorable outcome (52%).

Conclusion

The majority of patients with bacterial meningitis have hyperglycemic blood glucose levels on admission. Hyperglycemia can be explained by a physical stress reaction, the central nervous system insult leading to disturbed blood-glucose regulation mechanisms, and preponderance of diabetics for pneumococcal meningitis. Patients with diabetes and bacterial meningitis are at high risk for unfavorable outcome.