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Open Access Highly Accessed Case Report

Tuberculous meningitis presenting with unusual clinical features in Nigerians: Two case reports

Morenikeji A Komolafe*, Taofiki A Sunmonu and Olufunmi A Esan

Author Affiliations

Neurology Unit, Department of Medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria

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Cases Journal 2008, 1:180  doi:10.1186/1757-1626-1-180

Published: 24 September 2008

Abstract

Background

Tuberculous meningitis is common in developing countries and accounts for about 7.8% to 14% of all cases of tuberculosis in Nigeria.

Case presentation

Case 1 was a 17-year-old woman who presented with a 3-week history of weakness of the right upper and lower limbs, a 6-hour history of inability to speak and irrational behaviour. She had no remarkable past medical history. Physical examination revealed pyrexia (temperature of 38.2°C) and altered level of consciousness (Glasgow coma score = 7/15). The signs of meningeal irritation were present and she had anisocoria and right spastic hemiparesis. Other aspects of physical examination were normal. Laboratory investigations showed an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, normal cerebrospinal fluid protein and reduced glucose. The brain computed tomography scan showed features in keeping with obstructive hydrocephalus and she was immediately commenced on antituberculous drugs, intravenous steroids and mannitol. She made a remarkable clinical recovery and was discharged home 6 weeks after admission. Case 2 was a 40-year-old man who presented with a 6-week history of headache and fever and a 2-week history of alteration in level of consciousness. There was no history of neck pain and/or stiffness, nausea or vomiting. He had no other remarkable past medical history. He had been placed on various intravenous antibiotics in private hospitals before presentation, with no clinical improvement. Physical examination showed a young man in a coma (Glasgow coma score = 4/15) and febrile (temperature of 38.5°C) with signs of meningeal irritation. The brain stem reflexes were impaired and he had spastic quadriparesis. Further physical examination was essentially normal. The cerebrospinal fluid analysis showed features in keeping with meningeal inflammation and he had a raised erythrocyte sedimentation rate. The brain computed tomography scan showed features in keeping with obstructive hydrocephalus. He was placed on antituberculous drugs and intravenous steroids but despite this his clinical condition deteriorated and he died on the sixth day after admission.

Conclusion

Late presentation of tuberculous meningitis is not rare in Nigerians and we report two cases of tuberculous meningitis that presented late to our health care facility. This report is intended to make clinicians aware of the unusual clinical presentations of tuberculous meningitis.