Links To Dr. Josh Farkas’ Outstanding IBNCC Chapter “Meningitis & Encephalitis”

In this post, I link to Dr. Josh Farkas‘ outstanding Internet Book of Neurocritical Care [Link is to the IBNCC TOC] chapter, Meningitis & Encephalitis, July 3, 2022.

All that follows is from the above resource.

Severe CNS infections are a bit of an orphan disease in critical care.  Unlike more common neurologic disorders (e.g. stroke), CNS infections are too rare to recruit lots of patients into RCTs.  Consequently, conventional treatment of these disorders lags decades behind other neurologic disorders (e.g. in terms of optimizing cerebral perfusion pressure).  Principles of neurocritical care can be applied to these patients, but it requires a leap of faith.  Meanwhile, getting the basics right is the most important aspect – prompt diagnosis, appropriate empiric antibiotics, and definitive neuroimaging.



  • Failure to give steroid along with antibiotic.  Steroid is recommended by both US and European guidelines, based on prospective RCTs proving reduction in long-term neurologic disability.
  • Under-utilization of ultrasound-guided lumbar puncture for morbidly obese patients (if you’re sending patients for IR-guided lumbar puncture, consider ultrasound). [See Two YouTube Videos On The Use of Ultrasound For Lumbar Puncture
    Posted on August 28, 2022 by Tom Wade MD]
  • Delaying steroid/antibiotic therapy (e.g., for lumbar puncture).
  • Failing to check VZV PCR (this is seen occasionally, so if you’re going to get HSV PCR it’s worth getting VZV also).(23566589)
  • Keep in mind that antibiotics often require higher doses to penetrate the meninges (“meningeal dose”).  Thus, simply because the patient is on an antibiotic doesn’t mean that meningitis is necessarily covered adequately.
  • Recognize that a patient with meningitis/encephalitis and obtundation is critically ill, and should usually receive care in an ICU.

Acknowledgement:  Thanks to Dr. Richard Choi (@rkchoi) for thoughtful comments on this chapter.

Going further

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