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A Patient Presenting with Tuberculous Encephalopathy and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

Jason Li, Suraiya Afroz, Eric French, Anuj Mehta

(Department of Family Medicine, Brown University Family Medicine, Pawtucket, RI, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2016; 17:406-411

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.897745

BACKGROUND: In the USA, Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is more likely to be found in foreign-born individuals, and those co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are more likely to have tuberculous meningitis. The literature is lacking in details about the clinical workup of patients presenting with tuberculous meningitis with encephalopathic features who are co-infected with HIV. This report demonstrates a clinical approach to diagnosis and management of tuberculous meningitis.
CASE REPORT: A 33-year-old Ecuadorean man presented with altered consciousness and constitutional symptoms. During the workup he was found to have tuberculous meningitis with encephalopathic features and concurrent HIV infection. Early evidence for tuberculosis meningitis included lymphocytic pleocytosis and a positive interferon gamma release assay. A confirmatory diagnosis of systemic infection was made based on lymph node biopsy. Imaging studies of the neck showed scrofula and adenopathy, and brain imaging showed infarctions, exudates, and communicating hydrocephalus. Treatment was started for tuberculous meningitis, while anti-retroviral therapy for HIV was started 5 days later in combination with prednisone, given the risk of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS).
CONCLUSIONS: A clinical picture consistent with tuberculous meningitis includes constitutional symptoms, foreign birth, lymphocytic pleocytosis, specific radiographic findings, and immunodeficiency. Workup for tuberculous meningitis should include MRI, HIV screening, and cerebral spinal fluid analysis. It is essential to treat co-infection with HIV and to assess for IRIS.

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