Diagnostic issues in cerebral malaria: a study of 112 adolescents and adults in Lagos, Nigeria

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Okubadejo, N.U.
Danesi, M.A.
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National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria
OBJECTIVE: To determine the accuracy of initial diagnosis of cerebral malaria in adolescents and adults presenting at our tertiary centre and identify the clinical and laboratory parameters helpful in distinguishing cerebral malaria from other differential diagnosis. METHODS: A retrospective review of 112 adolescents and adults initially diagnosed as having cerebral malaria was carried out. Clinical features (risk factors, mode of presentation, clinical course and final diagnosis) and laboratory parameters (level of parasitaemia, haematologic and biochemical values) were documented. RESULTS: A correct diagnosis was made in 52 patients (46.4%), with septicaemia (20.5%) and meningitis (15.2%) accounting for most misdiagnosis. The majority of correctly diagnosed were aged 11-25 years (92.3%), and a predisposing factor was identifiable in 46.2%. Parasitaemia was predominantly moderate to heavy in correctly diagnosed cases, compared to those misdiagnosed in whom it was mild to moderate. Case fatality was higher for misdiagnosed cases (18.6%). CONCLUSION: The probability of an alternate diagnosis amenable to other treatment regimes should always be explored. This is particularly important in patients of middle age and those with either absent predisposing factors or mild parasitaemia, in order to reduce case fatality.
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Cerebral malaria , Diagnosis , Adults , Nigeria , Research Subject Categories::MEDICINE
Okubadejo NU, Danesi MA. Diagnostic issues in cerebral malaria: a study of 112 adolescents and adults in Lagos, Nigeria. Niger Postgrad Med J. 2004 Mar;11(1):10-4.