Dexamethasone efficacy on bacterial meningitis – a retrospective analysis of Albanian adult patients
Background: Research on the effects of corticosteroids in bacterial meningitis (BM) yielded conflicting results. While some studies reveal that corticosteroids improve the outcomes in BM treatments, others provide strong evidence that patients do not profit from this treatment. We investigated the factors that may impact the dexamethasone efficacy in patients with BM.
Methodology: In this retrospective study, we analyzed the medical records of patients with probable acute bacterial meningitis hospitalized between 2002 and 2008 at the Infectious Diseases Department, University Hospital Centre "Mother Theresa" of Tirana, Albania. They were all treated with dexamethasone.
For study purposes, patients were divided into two subgroups: 1) Severely ill patients (Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] ≤ 7 and 2) Less severely ill patients (GCS 8-12). Patients were considered recovered when they reached a GCS ≥ 13.
Results: Sixty-seven patients analyzed had a mean age of 43.8 ± 17.0 years old, forty-five (67.2%) of whom were males. The mean recovery time (RT) was 3.5 ± 1.3 days, and four (6%) died. In the severely ill subgroup (GCS ≤ 7 points), the Pearson correlation between the dexamethasone daily dose and the RT was -0.579, p < 0.01 level (2-tailed). There was no correlation found in the less severely ill group of patients (GCS 8-12 points).
Conclusions: This study suggests that the patients with lower GCS scores were significantly more likely to benefit from dexamethasone therapy. In this subgroup, high doses of corticosteroids can significantly reduce BM recovery time; however, patients with a high GCS do not benefit from dexamethasone therapy.