Acute bacterial meningitis caused by acute otitis media in adults: A series of 12 patients | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Acute bacterial meningitis caused by acute otitis media in adults: A series of 12 patients

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January 25, 2017
by Daniel M. Kaplan, MD; Ofer Gluck, MD; Mordechai Kraus, MD; Youval Slovik, MD; Hindy Juwad, Bsc


We conducted a retrospective chart review to characterize the outcomes of 12 patients-9 men and 3 women, aged 21 to 79 years (mean: 49)-who had been treated at our tertiary care center for acute bacterial meningitis caused by acute otitis media (ABMAO). Fever was the most common presenting sign/symptom, observed in 8 patients, followed by otalgia, neck stiffness, headache, and confusion. An opaque and bulging tympanic membrane was observed in 8 patients. Cultures were positive for Streptococcus pneumoniae in the cerebrospinal fluid, ear, and blood in 7, 5, and 3 patients, respectively. Immediate treatment included tympanocentesis, with aspirates sent for bacteriologic cultures. Seven patients (58.3%) underwent surgery; 5 were operated on early, and 2 underwent surgery at a later stage because of a suspected defect in the mastoid bone. A cortical mastoidectomy was performed in 6 of the 7 surgical patients; the remaining patient underwent a canal-wall-down procedure. Ten patients experienced a full recovery, 1 died, and 1 had a poor neurologic outcome (vegetative state); both of the latter 2 patients were older than 60 years. We conclude that early diagnosis, administration of antibiotics, and myringotomy are crucial for control of ABMAO. A cortical mastoidectomy with ventilation tube insertion can be reserved for patients who do not respond, which is common.

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