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Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Jun 1;48(11):e96-107. doi: 10.1086/598988.

Neurologic manifestations of paradoxical tuberculosis-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome: a case series.

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  • 1Infectious Diseases Unit, GF Jooste Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.



Paradoxical neurologic tuberculosis-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS) is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs within 3 months after starting combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). The reports in the published literature are anecdotal, and the prevalence and outcomes of neurologic TB-IRIS are unknown.


We prospectively assessed patients with suspected TB-IRIS from June 2005 through October 2007 at our hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. We defined paradoxical TB-IRIS and paradoxical neurologic TB-IRIS with use of consensus clinical case definitions. We collected data on tuberculosis diagnosis, ART, details of TB-IRIS diagnosis, other opportunistic infections, corticosteroid use, and outcome.


We reviewed 279 patients with suspected TB-IRIS, 54 (19%) of whom had suspected neurologic TB-IRIS, and 225 (81%) of whom had suspected non-neurologic TB-IRIS. Paradoxical TB-IRIS was diagnosed in 190 patients; 23 (12%) of these 190 patients had neurologic TB-IRIS (95% confidence interval, 7%-17%). Eight had meningitis, 7 had tuberculoma, 5 had both tuberculoma and meningitis, and 3 had radiculomyelopathy. Twenty (87%) of the 23 patients with neurologic TB-IRIS required hospital admission (median duration, 12 days; interquartile range, 6-24 days), and 21 (91%) received corticosteroids (median duration, 58 days; interquartile range, 29-86 days). Outcomes 6 months after the initial assessment for neurologic deterioration were as follows: 16 (70%) of the patients were alive (10 of these patients had documented full physical and mental recovery), 3 (13%) were dead, and 4 (17%) were lost to follow-up.


Paradoxical neurologic TB-IRIS accounts for 12% of paradoxical TB-IRIS cases. Neurologic TB-IRIS causes considerable short-term morbidity but has reasonable long-term outcomes. Further research is needed to devise optimal diagnostic and management strategies for patients with tuberculosis who experience neurologic deterioration after starting ART.

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