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March 1989

Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Dexamethasone Therapy for Bacterial Meningitis

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Lebel, Waagner, and McCracken and Ms Hoyt) and Radiology (Dr Rollins), The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Southwestern Medical School; and the Neuroscience Research Center, Dallas (Dr Finitzo). Dr Lebel is currently with the Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology, University of Montreal, Canada.

Am J Dis Child. 1989;143(3):301-306. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1989.02150150055017

• We conducted a third placebo-controlled, double-blind study of dexamethasone as adjunctive therapy for bacterial meningitis. Thirty-one patients received cefuroxime sodium (300 mg/kg per day in 3 doses) and dexamethasone phosphate (0.6 mg/kg per day in 4 doses for 4 days), and 29 received cefuroxime and placebo. The groups were comparable at the beginning of therapy. Magnetic resonance imaging performed between days 2 and 5 of therapy was used to assess brain water content indirectly. There were no differences between the 2 treatment groups with respect to the T1- or T2-weighted images. Fifty-two patients (88%) had normal magnetic resonance images; 5 patients had parietal or bifrontal extra-axial fluid collections, and 2 children had areas of abnormal signal intensity in the brain on T2-weighted images. Abnormal findings on magnetic resonance imaging did not alter clinical management, and there was no correlation between the results of magnetic resonance imaging and the outcome of meningitis. The number of patients in this study was too small to determine any statistically significant differences in rates of hearing impairment; however, the cerebrospinal fluid findings and clinical outcome in dexamethasone-treated patients further support the previously reported beneficial effect of corticosteroid treatment in patients with bacterial meningitis.

(AJDC. 1989;143:301-306)

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