Viral encephalitis: a review of diagnostic methods and guidelines for management

European Journal of Neurology : the Official Journal of the European Federation of Neurological Societies
I SteinerPeter G E Kennedy


Viral encephalitis is a medical emergency. The spectrum of brain involvement and the prognosis are dependent mainly on the specific pathogen and the immunological state of the host. Although specific therapy is limited to only several viral agents, correct immediate diagnosis and introduction of symptomatic and specific therapy has a dramatic influence upon survival and reduces the extent of permanent brain injury in survivors. We searched MEDLINE (National Library of Medicine) for relevant literature from 1966 to May 2004. Review articles and book chapters were also included. Recommendations are based on this literature based on our judgment of the relevance of the references to the subject. Recommendations were reached by consensus. Where there was lack of evidence but consensus was clear we have stated our opinion as good practice points. Diagnosis should be based on medical history, examination followed by analysis of cerebrospinal fluid for protein and glucose contents, cellular analysis and identification of the pathogen by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification (recommendation level A) and serology (recommendation level B). Neuroimaging, preferably by magnetic resonance imaging, is an essential aspect of evaluatio...Continue Reading

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