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Intensive Care Med. 2001 Jun;27(6):1073-82.

Myocardial injury in meningococcus-induced purpura fulminans in children.

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Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital, Athens, Greece.



To assess the incidence of myocardial ischemia in meningococcus-induced purpura fulminans in pediatric patients, to compare troponin I (cTnI) levels with changes in electrocardiogram (ECG) and to evaluate whether cTnI is related to myocardial function and contractility, to severe acquired anticoagulant deficiency and to the severity of disease.


Twenty-two patients with acute meningococcemia, supported with inotropes or vasoactive agents, were studied, Blood samples for the determination of serum cTnI and conventional myocardial ischemia and coagulopathy markers were drawn daily. Measurements of cardiac index (CI), ejection (EF) and shortening fractions (SF) and ECGs were performed daily.


The Leclerc score, the Neisseria sepsis index (NESI) and the pediatric risk of mortality (PRISM) score predicted a mean mortality rate of 34%, 27% and 23%, respectively. Four patients died (18%). Five patients (23 %) presented with myocardial ischemia. Their ECG ischemic changes were associated with pathologically high cTnI levels (1.93 +/- 0.13 vs 0.18 +/- 0.08 ng/ml, p < 0.001 for patients with or without ischemic changes) and depressed myocardial contractility (mean difference +/- SE -14 +/- 5%, p = 0.01, for the EF and -7.4 +/- 3, p < 0.02, for the SF). High cTnI values were significantly correlated to low protein C (PC) (p < 0.0001), factor VIII (p < 0.04) and antithrombin III (AIII, p = 0.01) levels, but not to the PRISM, Leclerc or the NESI scores. Means of AIII, VII, and especially of VIII, and PC, were significantly lower in ischemic than in non-ischemic patients, although severity scoring systems and inotropic support did not differ between the two groups. Survivors tended to significantly higher PC (p < 0.01) and factor VIII levels (p = 0.001) than non-survivors and, also, to lower levels of cTnI (p = 0.05) and CPK-MB (p < 0.05), while in meningococcal shock.


The incidence of myocardial ischemia is increased in acute meningococcemia in pediatric patients and correlates with myocardial dysfunction. High cTnI is associated with severe coagulopathy, but not with clinical prognostic scores or inotropic support. Early recognition of myocardial injury, myocardial support and early replacement therapy with PC, AIII, factor VIII or fibrinogen might improve outcome in acute meningococcemia in children.

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