J Pediatr Infect Dis 2018; 13(02): 141-152
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1607235
Review Article
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Treatment of Central Nervous System Tuberculosis

Amina Ahmed
1   Department of Pediatrics, Levine Children's Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
2   University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

10 April 2017

02 June 2017

Publication Date:
15 January 2018 (online)


Central nervous system tuberculosis (CNS-TB) manifests as tuberculous meningitis, intracranial tuberculoma, or spinal tuberculous arachnoiditis. Children are disproportionately affected, with high rates of mortality and morbidity reported even in the era of treatment. Most guidelines for the treatment of drug-susceptible CNS-TB recommend 9 to 12 months of a standard regimen of isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol, with the adjunctive use of corticosteroids early in therapy. Recent trials have demonstrated improved outcomes with intensified regimens using nonstandard regimens or higher dosages of standard drugs. Accumulating evidence also supports shorter duration of treatment. Further investigation is warranted to identify the optimal regimen and duration of treatment for CNS-TB. Complications such as hydrocephalus may be managed medically or surgically. Although outcomes have improved with effective chemotherapy and immunomodulation of disease, prompt diagnosis and treatment in the early stages of disease remain paramount to improve prognosis.