Among 50 consecutive cases of bacterial meningitis in infants aged 6 months or less, 9 (Group I) were confirmed to have complications requiring neurosurgery during the first 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment. Neurosurgery was performed in 40, 33, and 30% of cases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli, respectively. There were 5 cases of subdural empyema, 1 case of brain abscess, 1 case of subdural empyema and brain abscess, and 2 cases of ventriculitis with severe hydrocephalus. All complications requiring neurosurgery were initially detected by cranial ultrasonography. The other 41 patients who did not undergo neurosurgery were classified as Group II. Comparison of clinical presentations and laboratory findings between the two groups showed that Group 1 contained more patients with a history of inadequate treatment, and longer duration of illness before diagnosis. Except for prolonged disturbance of consciousness, there was no difference between the two groups in clinical and laboratory data on admission or in clinical course during therapy. Due to the high incidence of complications requiring neurosurgical treatment, cost- effective cranial ultrasound is recommended for screening every young infant with bacterial meningitis, especially in cases caused by S. pneumoniae.
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