Background: The World Health Organization recommends 12-month treatment (2RHZE/10RH) for children with tuberculous meningitis (TBM). Studies evaluating length of antituberculous treatment for TBM report similar completion and relapse rates comparing 6-month treatment with 12-month treatment.
Methods: A prospective evaluation to determine whether short-course intensified treatment (6 RHZEth for HIV-infected and 9RHZEth for HIV-infected) is sufficient and safe in children with drug-susceptible TBM.
Results: Of 184 children with TBM, median age 58 months and 90 (49%) male, 98 children (53%) presented at stage II TBM, 64 (35%) at stage III TBM and only 22 (12%) at stage I TBM. Ninety (49%) children were treated at home after the first month of therapy; all others received their full treatment in hospital. The HIV prevalence was 14% (22/155 children tested). Anti-TB drug-induced hepatotoxicity occurred in 5% (8 of 143 children tested), all tested negative for viral hepatitis; in all 8 cases, the original regimen was restarted without recurrence. After treatment completion, 147 (80%) children had a good outcome, 7 (3.8%) died. There was no difference in outcome between HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected children who completed treatment (P = 0.986) nor between TBM-hydrocephalic children who were medically treated or shunted (P = 0.166).
Conclusion: Short intensified treatment is safe and effective in both HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected children with drug-susceptible TBM.