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Practice Guidelines for the Management of Bacterial Meningitis (Archived)

Published CID,

Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 39, Issue 9, 1 November 2004, Pages 1267–1284,
Published: 01 November 2004

Allan R. Tunkel, Barry J. Hartman, Sheldon L. Kaplan, Bruce A. Kaufman, Karen L. Roos, W. Michael Scheld, Richard J. Whitley


The objective of these practice guidelines is to provide clinicians with recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of bacterial meningitis. Patients with bacterial meningitis are usually treated by primary care and emergency medicine physicians at the time of initial presentation, often in consultation with infectious diseases specialists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons. In contrast to many other infectious diseases, the antimicrobial therapy for bacterial meningitis is not always based on randomized, prospective, double-blind clinical trials, but rather on data initially obtained from experimental animal models of infections. A model commonly utilized is the experimental rabbit model, in which animals are anesthetized and placed in a stereotactic frame. In this procedure, the cisterna magna can be punctured for frequent sampling of CSF and injection of microorganisms. Frequent sampling of CSF permits measurement of leukocytes and chemical parameters and quantitation of the relative penetration of antimicrobial agents into CSF and the effects of meningitis on this entry parameter, the relative bactericidal efficacy (defined as the rate of bacterial eradication) within purulent CSF, and CSF pharmacodynamics. Results obtained from these and other animal models have led to clinical trials of specific agents in patients with bacterial meningitis.

In this guideline, we will review our recommendations for the diagnosis and management of bacterial meningitis. Recommendation categories are shown in table 1. The guideline represents data published through May 2004.

For the full list of references, please visit Oxford Academic, Clinical Infectious Diseases online.

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