Author(s): Green SM, Rothrock SG, Clem KJ, Zurcher RF, Mellick L
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: It is frequently taught that lumbar puncture is a mandatory procedure in many or all children who have fever and a seizure, because the convulsion may represent the sole manifestation of bacterial meningitis. We attempted to determine the incidence of this occult manifestation of meningitis. DESIGN: Retrospective case series. SETTING AND PATIENTS: 503 consecutive cases of meningitis in children aged 2 months to 15 years seen at two referral hospitals during a 20-year period. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Signs and symptoms of meningitis in patients having associated seizures. RESULTS: Meningitis was associated with seizures in 115 cases (23\%), and 105 of these children were either obtunded or comatose at their first visit with a physician after the seizure. The remaining 10 had relatively normal levels of consciousness and either were believed to have viral meningitis (2) or possessed straightforward indications for lumbar puncture: nuchal rigidity (6), prolonged focal seizure (1), or multiple seizures and a petechial rash (1). No cases of occult bacterial meningitis were found. CONCLUSION: In our review of 503 consecutive children with meningitis, none were noted to have bacterial meningitis manifesting solely as a simple seizure. We suspect that this previously described entity is either extremely rare or nonexistent. Commonly taught decision rules requiring lumbar puncture in children with fever and a seizure appear to be unnecessarily restrictive.
This article was published in Pediatrics
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy