Dynamic assessment of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is essential for diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of tuberculous meningitis, one of the most severe forms of central nervous system (CNS) infection.
A 45-year-old man sought care as he developed confusion, clonic convulsion, and coma. Longitudinal, comprehensive analyses of cytological, biochemical, and microbial changes in CSF specimen were assessed for this patient. On day 1 of hospitalization, modified Ziehl-Neelsen staining of CSF identified positive acid-fast bacilli, cytological analysis revealed neutrophilic-predominant pleocytosis (neutrophils 77%), and adenosine deaminase (ADA) was substantially elevated. Therefore, tuberculous meningitis was diagnosed and first-line standard anti-tuberculosis treatment was initiated. Interestingly, after 7-day treatment, the patient was greatly improved, and CSF disclosed a dominant percentage of lymphocytes (82%) as well as macrophages engulfing Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Later, the dose of dexamethasone was reduced, large number of neutrophils (57%) was present and protein level was immediately elevated in CSF specimen, indicating a possible relapse of tuberculous meningitis. Since the clinical condition of the patient was not worsening, the patient was stick to reduced dose of dexamethasone and standard anti-tuberculosis agents. He was discharged from the hospital on day 34, with 1-year continuation standard anti-tuberculosis therapy, and was clinically resolved from tuberculous meningitis.
Detailed analyses of cellular composition, biochemical results, and microbial tests of CSF specimen provide the physician direct evidence of the immune surveillance status during tuberculous meningitis, which facilitates early diagnosis, optimal treatment, and improved prognosis.

© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Laboratory Analysis Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.