Background: The diagnosis of acute bacterial meningitis (ABM) is challenging in resource-limited settings where cerebral malaria and viral encephalitis are also common. Methods: To assess the accuracy of an initial clinical diagnosis of ABM in a malaria-endemic area of Papua New Guinea (PNG), a retrospective chart review of hospitalized children aged 2 months to 10 years was conducted. Results: Of the 481 eligible children, 240 had an initial clinical diagnosis of ABM that was confirmed independently by trained research staff under standardized conditions, with laboratory support in only 84 (17.5%; 84/481). When compared with the final laboratory-confirmed diagnosis, an initial diagnosis of ABM had a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of 76% (95% CI 66-85%), 56% (95% CI 51-61%), 27% (95% CI 21-33) and 92% (95% CI 87-95%), respectively. There was discordance between initial and final diagnosis of ABM in 196 children; 176 initially considered to have ABM had an alternative diagnosis, while 20 without an initial diagnosis of ABM were confirmed to have ABM. Conclusion: These data show that initial misdiagnosis of ABM is common in a malaria-endemic area of PNG. A diagnostic algorithm using standardized assessment for meningeal irritation, coma and malaria parasitological testing needs further evaluation in this setting. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. All rights reserved.
|Journal||Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene|
|Early online date||3 May 2014|
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2014|