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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557

Abstract

BRANCO, Ricardo G.; AMORETTI, Carolina F.  and  TASKER, Robert C.. Meningococcal disease and meningitis. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2007, vol.83, n.2, suppl., pp. S46-S53. ISSN 0021-7557.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0021-75572007000300006.

OBJECTIVE: To review the literature relevant to diagnosis and management of meningococcal disease (MD). SOURCES: Non-systematic review of medical literature through the MEDLINE database using the terms meningococcal, septic shock, diagnosis, and treatment. Articles were selected according to their relevance to the objective of the study and according to the authors’ opinion. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: MD is a leading cause of death due to infection in children. It progresses rapidly and a high level of suspicion is necessary for early diagnosis. Early intervention with aggressive fluid resuscitation and antibiotic therapy can significantly improve outcome. In the pediatric intensive care unit, a large amount of fluids may be required during the first few days and vasoactive drug infusions are often needed. Coagulopathy is frequent, but it has no specific treatment. The use of colloids and steroids may be beneficial, but other new therapies such as insulin and activated protein C still need further assessment. Rescue therapy with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation may be appropriate in cases complicated by severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, but not for refractory shock. Meningitis is often not diagnosed in MD because of the severity of illness and the inability to perform a lumbar puncture safely in a patient with coagulopathy, coma, or hemodynamic instability. When present, cerebral edema and altered cerebral blood flow are the main concerns. The use of osmolar solution may be necessary, but the main therapeutic intervention is to ensure adequate blood pressure for adequate cerebral perfusion. Seizures and hyponatremia should be aggressively treated. Steroids do not appear to affect outcome in meningococcal meningitis. CONCLUSIONS: MD is a life-threatening infection that requires early recognition and treatment. Time sensitive fluid resuscitation and antibiotic therapy are the most effective therapies for MD. Other therapies such as steroids may have a place in MD treatment but more definitive studies are necessary.

Keywords : Meningococcal disease; sepsis; meningitis; critical care; pediatrics; purpura.

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