Author: Jabeen Fayyaz, Arshalooz Rehman, Akhter Hamid, Munawar Khursheed, Nukhbha Zia, Asher Feroze

Objective: To determine the signs and symptoms of acute bacterial meningitis (ABM) in different age grops of a paediatric population.
Methods: The retrospective study comprised patients who had been admitted through the Emergency Department of Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi with the relevant diagnosis from September 2009 to September 2011. Case record forms were used to collect data from patient files. Data was collected using variables such as age, gender, presenting complaints, clinical signs and symptoms, computed tomography scan findings and final outcome of patients. There was a minimal risk of breach in patient confidentiality. SPSS 19 was used for data analysis.
Results: A total of 192 patietns were enrolled. The presenting complaint in 165 (86%) patients was fever; vomiting in 93 (48.43%); and 49 (52.68%) of them were more than 5 years old. Irritability was present in 54 (28.12%) children, of whom 27 (50%) were less than one year. Fits were present in 47 (24.47%) cases out of which 21 (44.68%) were less than one year. Neck stiffness and signs of meningeal irritation, Kerning’s sign and Brudzincski’s sign, were present in 53 (27.60%) patients; 26 (13.54%); and 18 (9.3%) respectively. These signs were more common in children over 5 years of age, reflected by 29 (54.7%), 16 (61.5%) and 11 (61.11%) patients respectively. On presentation, headache was found in 77 (40.10%) children among whom 56 (72.72%) were over 5 years. Besides, 151 (78.6%) patients
required admission to the ward, while 40 (20.8%) were admitted in High Dependancy Unit/critical care units. Adverse outcome was observed in 6 (3.12%) patients.
Conclusion: Younger children with acute bacterial meningitis presented with non-specific signs and symptoms. Headache and signs of meningeal irritation were common findings in children over 5 years.

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