An assessment of the necessity of lumbar puncture in children with seizure and fever
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Objective: It is frequently thought that lumbar puncture (LP), is a mandatory procedure in all children who have fever and a seizure; because a convulsion may be the sole clinical manifestations of bacterial meningitis. To assess whether meningitis could be recognized using readily available clinical information. Methods: This study was done during a 4 yr period from 2002-2006. A total of 254 previously healthy children aged 6 months to 5 years, were brought consecutively to the paediatric department of a teaching university hospital after their first fever-associated-seizure; lumbar puncture (LP) was performed in all cases. Children with seizure and fever and meningitis served as cases and those with fever and seizure, but no meningitis, served as control. Factors compared in the two groups were: age, lethargy, irritability, vomiting, nuchal rigidity, bulging fontanel, headache, drowsiness, toxicity, coma, complex seizure, and prior antibiotic use. Results: Twelve, (4.7 %), cases were diagnosed as meningitis. Risk factors significantly associated with meningitis were: age < 12 months, lethargy, irritability, vomiting, nuchal rigidity, bulging fontanel, headache, drowsiness, toxicity, coma, complex seizure, and prior antibiotic use, (p < 0.05). All children with meningitis had at least one of the risk factors mentioned above. Conclusion: Our results indicate that based on available clinical data, meningitis can be ruled out in children presenting with seizure and fever; thus there is no need for routine lumbar puncture in all children who present with fever and seizure. However a lumbar puncture is mandatory in infants younger than 12 months or who have received prior antibiotics.