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Acta Clin Belg. 2012 Jul-Aug;67(4):282-5.

External validation of the bacterial meningitis score in children hospitalized with meningitis.

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Département de Pédiatrie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires de Mont Godinne, Yvoir, Belgium.


The Bacterial Meningitis Score (BMS) is considered as the rule with the highest sensitivity to safely distinguish between aseptic and bacterial meningitis (BM).


The objective of our study was to evaluate the performance of the score and its usefulness for the clinician.


Retrospective analysis of two Belgian academic hospitals-based cohort studies. All consecutive children aged 29 days to 18 years admitted for acute meningitis between January 1996 and December 2008 was eligible. The BMS (risk of bacterial meningitis if seizure, positive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Gram staining, CSF protein level (3) 80 mg/dl, CSF neutrophil count 1,000/ mm3 or blood neutrophil count > or = 10,000/mm3) was applied to all patients with meningitis defined by CSF pleocytosis > 8 WBC/mm3.


174 patients were included in the final analysis of whom 26 (15%) had BM. Of the 93 patients categorized as having with no risk for BM (BMS score = 0), 2 patients had BM, one of which had petechial rash (negative predictive value 97.8%). BMS had a sensitivity of 92.3%. Risk of BM was significantly related to the BMS score: 6/147 (4%) patients with BMS < or = 1 had BM compared to 20/27 (74%) patients with BMS > 1.


Our study reports a lower sensitivity of the BMS than observed in previous validation studies. We suggest to include the BMS in a decision tree aiming to optimize the ordering of laboratory investigations including viral and bacterial PCR testing in any child with CSF pleocytosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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