Background: Cryptococcal meningitis continues to be one of the common causes of chronic central nervous system infection worldwide. Individuals with cryptococcal meningitis can occasionally present with small vessel vasculitis causing infarcts primarily in the basal ganglia, internal capsule, and thalamus. Literature regarding patterns of cerebrovascular injury among patients with cryptococcal meningitis is scanty, and outcome following these vascular involvements is unknown. Aim: To study the clinical profile, imaging findings, and details of vascular territory involved among patients admitted with cryptococcal meningitis and central nervous system infarct in a tertiary care center from India. And to compare the outcomes of patients of cryptococcal meningitis with or without central nervous system infarcts in terms of mortality and morbidity, Methodology: A total of 151 patients with microbiologically proven cryptococcal meningitis over a time span of 11 years were retrospectively enrolled into the study. Of these, 66 patients met the inclusion criteria of having appropriate imaging of the brain. The presence of infarct in the imaging was analyzed by two independent radiologists. Patterns of central nervous system involvement and types of vascular injury were ascertained based on radiological parameters. Clinical parameters and outcomes of patients with and without infarcts were compared. Results: Twenty (13%) of these patients had evidence of central nervous system infarcts on imaging. The mean age of patients with and without infarcts was 41 years and 38 years, respectively. Male predominance was present among both the groups. The presence of fever, neck stiffness, positive blood culture, and hydrocephalus in central nervous system imaging was similar among patients with or without infarct. Longer duration of illness, low sensorium at the time of presentation, low Glasgow Coma Scale score, presence of meningeal inflammation, cryptococcomas, and basal exudates in imaging were higher in patients with infarct. All the infarcts were of the lacunar type. Sixty percent of the cerebrovascular infarcts were acute in nature, 50% of these being multiple. Unilateral infarcts were seen in 70% of the patients. The most common site of infarct was the basal ganglia, others being distributed over the thalamus, frontal, temporal, parieto-occipital regions in the descending order. The presence of neurovascular involvement in the form of infarcts to the risk of morbidity and mortality had an odds ratio of 9.1 and 2.6, respectively. Conclusion: Neurovascular involvement in chronic cryptococcal meningitis is a rare entity. These tend to present as multiple lacunar infarcts. Mortality and morbidity associated with these patients is higher when compared to patients who do not have infarcts. This result suggests that vascular injury plays a role in predicting outcome of patients with cryptococcal meningitis. Future studies are needed to understand the mechanism by which vascular events (infarcts) occur and result in poor outcome.
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