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Eur J Pediatr. 1996 Jan;155(1):26-30.

Recurrent bacterial meningitis.

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Universitäts-Kinderklinik, Würzburg, Germany.


To characterize recurrent bacterial meningitis in children, we reviewed the charts of all patients treated for more than one episode of bacterial meningitis at the Würzburg University Children's Hospital from 1980 to June 1995. Twenty-five children suffered 2-13 episodes of bacterial meningitis. Most patients were referred from other hospitals to our paediatric neurosurgical service. No immunodeficiency was found. In all patients, the cause of recurrent meningitis was an anatomical lesion with 13 intracranial defects including encephaloceles, skull fractures, Mondini dysplasias, neurenteric cyst, fibrous dysplasia, persistent craniopharyngeal duct, and 12 lumboscral defects with a dermoid cyst within the lumbosacral spine. A first episode of meningitis at school age did not exclude a congenital defect. In total, 84 episodes of meningitis were treated, a pathogen was isolated in 77%. The most common pathogen was Streptococcus pneumoniae, followed by Escherichia coli, Staphylococci and others. The pathogen isolated often gave a clue to the location of the defect. Personal history was often unrewarding and in some cases the search for the anatomical lesion required repeated imaging and explorative surgery. In 24 of 25 cases, final treatment of recurrent meningitis was by surgical intervention.


In recurrent bacterial meningitis, excessive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are indicated. An anatomical defect is a very probable cause.

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