Indexed on: 04 Jul '08Published on: 04 Jul '08Published in: The Journal of Emergency Medicine
Streptococcus pneumoniae accounts for approximately 50% of bacterial meningitis cases in the United States annually. Since the advent of antibiotics, pneumococcal meningitis as a complication of a primary otogenic focus has been rare in the United States. The widespread use of immunosuppressants and increasing bacterial resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics may contribute to a higher incidence of complications of otitis media in the future, similar to that of the pre-antibiotic era. We report a case of otogenic pneumococcal meningitis with pneumocephalus in an adult male on chronic immunosuppressant therapy. A 33-year-old man with Crohn's disease and azathioprine use presented to our Emergency Department with progressive headache while taking antibiotics for otitis media. Initial computed tomography scan of the brain revealed pneumocephaly, and cerebrospinal fluid analysis and culture diagnosed pneumococcal meningitis. The patient continued to have fevers while receiving intravenous antibiotics and underwent bilateral myringotomies; his clinical course subsequently improved significantly. Meningitis is a rare complication of Streptococcus pneumoniae infections since the advent of antibiotics; however, it may become more frequent with increasing antibiotic resistance and a growing population of immunocompromised patients. Additionally, pneumocephalus in the setting of meningitis and otitis media should raise the suspicion for mastoiditis (even without overt clinical findings) and early consultation with an otolaryngologist is warranted.