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Otol Neurotol. 2012 Oct;33(8):1422-5. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0b013e3182693a03.

Herpes simplex meningitis after removal of a vestibular schwannoma: case report and review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Neurologic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



We present a case of postoperative herpes simplex type 1 viral meningitis after retrosigmoid craniotomy and uncomplicated removal of a vestibular schwannoma. This is a very rare complication that can mimic aseptic meningitis and could lead to devastating consequences for the patient, if unrecognized.


A healthy 49-year-old woman underwent retrosigmoid craniotomy and resection of a 2.4-cm vestibular schwannoma. She developed worsening headache and low-grade fever on postoperative Day 10 and underwent lumbar puncture showing a lymphocyte predominant pleocytosis. Polymerase chain reaction was positive for herpes simplex type 1 virus; bacterial cultures were negative. The patient subsequently developed a pseudomeningocele and mild hydrocephalus.


The patient was readmitted to the hospital, started on corticosteroids, and a lumbar drain was placed. She completed a 14-day course of antiviral therapy (4 d intravenous as an inpatient and 10 d oral outpatient therapy).


At 1 month follow-up, she was completely asymptomatic, and her pseudomeningocele had resolved.


The diagnosis of herpes simplex viral meningitis should be suspected in clinical cases of postsurgical meningitis with a lymphocyte predominant pleocytosis and negative bacterial cultures. Antiviral therapy should be initiated immediately after confirmatory polymerase chain reaction testing to avoid potential long-term sequelae of a herpes simplex infection of the central nervous system.

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