Dexamethasone and long-term outcome of tuberculous meningitis in Vietnamese adults and adolescents.
Török ME., Nguyen DB., Tran THC., Nguyen TBY., Thwaites GE., Hoang TQ., Nguyen HD., Tran TH., Nguyen TC., Hoang HTT., Wolbers M., Farrar JJ.
BACKGROUND: Dexamethasone has been shown to reduce mortality in patients with tuberculous meningitis but the long-term outcome of the disease is unknown. METHODS: Vietnamese adults and adolescents with tuberculous meningitis recruited to a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive dexamethasone were followed-up at five years, to determine the effect of dexamethasone on long-term survival and neurological disability. RESULTS: 545 patients were randomised to receive either dexamethasone (274 patients) or placebo (271 patients). 50 patients (9.2%) were lost to follow-up at five years. In all patients two-year survival, probabilities tended to be higher in the dexamethasone arm (0.63 versus 0.55; p = 0.07) but five-year survival rates were similar (0.54 versus 0.51, p = 0.51) in both groups. In patients with grade 1 TBM, but not with grade 2 or grade 3 TBM, the benefit of dexamethasone treatment tended to persist over time (five-year survival probabilities 0.69 versus 0.55, p = 0.07) but there was no conclusive evidence of treatment effect heterogeneity by TBM grade (p = 0.36). The dexamethasone group had a similar proportion of severely disabled patients among survivors at five years as the placebo group (17/128, 13.2% vs. 17/116, 14.7%) and there was no significant association between dexamethasone treatment and disability status at five years (p = 0.32). CONCLUSIONS: Adjunctive dexamethasone appears to improve the probability of survival in patients with TBM, until at least two years of follow-up. We could not demonstrate a five-year survival benefit of dexamethasone treatment which may be confined to patients with grade 1 TBM. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01317654.