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February 1989

Central Nervous System Infections in Heart and Heart-Lung Transplant Recipients

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurological Surgery (Drs Hall and Lundsford), Pathology (Dr Martinez), Medicine (Dr Dummer), Surgery (Drs Dummer, Griffith, Hardesty, and Bahnson), and Radiology (Dr Lunsford), University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology (Dr Dummer). Graduate School of Public Health, University Health Center of Pittsburgh. Dr Hall is now with the Surgical Neurology Branch, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(2):173-177. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520380077017

• Infections, a major cause of morbidity and mortality in immunosuppressed heart and heart-lung transplant recipients, frequently involve the central nervous system and can produce devastating neurologic sequelae. Between 1980 and 1987, a total of 363 heart transplant and 54 heart-lung transplant recipients at the University of Pittsburgh sustained 13 intracranial infections two to 143 weeks after transplantation. Computed tomography demonstrated well-defined Nocardia and Aspergillus abscesses in four patients. Cerebrospinal fluid was normal in all cases studied, including in those patients in whom culture confirmed meningitis. Computed tomography—guided stereotactic surgery was used to diagnose and aspirate two nocardial brain abscesses. The prognosis for patients with central nervous system infections was related to their overall condition at the time of diagnosis. Both patients with nocardial abscesses and one patient with Listeria leptomeningitis survived, but all ten other patients died because of extensive multisystem infectious complications.

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