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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2012 Nov;56(10):1210-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2012.02698.x. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

The role of dexamethasone in the treatment of bacterial meningitis - a systematic review.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Glostrup Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark.


Corticosteroids are used as an adjunct to antibiotics in the treatment of bacterial meningitis in an attempt to attenuate the intrathecal inflammatory response and thereby reduce mortality and morbidity. The purpose of the present paper is to provide a review of clinical studies of corticosteroids in the treatment of bacterial meningitis. Relevant literature was found in PubMed, the Cochrane databases, and references in studies. Forty-four publications of relevance were identified, comprising 29 publications of randomised studies, 10 publications reporting either non- or quasi-randomised studies, and five reporting retrospective studies, and nine meta-analyses. Taken together, dexamethasone treatment may be associated with a lower mortality in adults and fewer neurological and auditory sequelae in adults and children from high-income countries, in particular in adults suffering from pneumococcal meningitis. In contrast, studies conducted in developing countries have yielded less favourable results.

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