Cryptococcal meningitis, one of the most severe infections affecting the central nervous system, often involves severe neurological sequels and high mortality.
A retrospective review was performed, including 76 cases admitted in a 10-year period at a neurological referral center in Mexico City. From 68 isolates, 52 fungal specimens were identified as part of the Cryptococcus neoformans var. neoformans complex, 15 as C. neoformans var gattii complex, and one as Cryptococcus non-neoformans/gattii.
Higher cryptococcal meningitis incidence and severity were found in HIV-infected men; other risk factors frequently observed were diabetes mellitus and labor exposure to poultry. The main clinical manifestations were subacute headache, cognitive alterations, and photophobia (exclusively in HIV patients). MRI was highly sensitive for pathologic findings such as meningeal enhancements and cryptococcomas, most of them associated to C. neoformans complex. Eleven patients developed severe brain vasculitis, as observed by transcranial Doppler. Hydrocephalus with intracranial hypertension was the most frequent complication.
One-half of the population died, and the rest had neurological sequels, mainly neuropsychiatric manifestations and secondary headaches. These patients developed severe functional limitations in performing daily activities in an independent manner.