Bacterial meningitis and neurological complications in adults
Bacterial meningitis is a leading cause of death from infectious disease worldwide. The neurological complications secondary to bacterial meningitis contribute to the high mortality rate and to disability among the survivors. Cerebrovascular complications, including infarction and hemorrhage, are common. Inflammation and increased pressure in the subarachnoid space result in cranial neuropathy. Seizures occur in either the acute or delayed phase after the infection and require early detection and treatment. Spreading of infection to other intracranial structures, including the subdural space, brain parenchyma, and ventricles, increases morbidity and mortality in survivors. Infection can also spread to the spinal canal causing spinal cord abscess, epidural abscess, polyradiculitis, and spinal cord infarction secondary to vasculitis of the spinal artery. Hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction is also an uncommon complication after bacterial meningitis. Damage to cerebral structures contributes to cognitive and neuropsychiatric problems. Being aware of these complications leads to early detection and treatment and improves mortality and outcomes in patients with bacterial meningitis.