Neurological disorders in a consultant hospital in Northern Tanzania. A cohort study

SaitoreLaizera1KajiruKilonzoaSarahUrasaaVenanceMaroaRichardWalkerbWilliamHowletta a Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, PO Box 3010, Moshi, Tanzania b Department of Medicine, North Tyneside General Hospital, Rake Lane, North Shields, Tyne and Wear NE29 8NH, UK
Publication year: 


To determine the sociodemographic characteristics, clinical findings and outcome by HIVstatus in a series of adult patients presenting with neurological disorders (NDs) and admitted to a consultant hospital in Northern Tanzania.


cohort study took place over a 6-month period from Oct 2007 to March 2008 and included all adult patients with a neurological disorder admitted to the medical wards.


A total of 1790 patients were admitted during this period, of whom 337 (18.8%) were diagnosed with a neurological disorder and formed the study group. Of these 337, 69 (20.5%) were HIV-positive. Among the 69 HIV positives, 25% were previously known to be HIV seropositive of whom 82% were on antiretroviral (ARV) medication. Seropositive patients were more likely than seronegative patients to be younger, better educated, have a business occupation, present clinically with confusionheadache and aphasia and have meningitis/CNS infection or a space occupying lesion. Seropositive patients were more likely to present with a Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) of 9–12/15 (33.3% v 17.2%). Seropositive patients had a median CD4 T-lymphocyte count of 47cells/L and were more likely to be anaemic and have an elevated ESR. CT of the head was carried out on 132/337 (39%) patients. The overall findings were infarction 37%, hemorrhage 19%, tumors 15% and abscesses 9%. Brain abscess was more likely in seropositive patients and hemorrhage in seronegatives. The outcome at discharge for all patients was: death 27.6%, disability 54% and no disability 18.4% with death (39.1%) being more likely in seropositive patients. Patients presenting with coma (GCS <9/15) were more likely to die whilst those with stroke, para/quadriplegia and space occupying lesions (SOLs) were more likely to be discharged with disability. Case fatality rate was highest for tetanus 71.4%, meningitis 57.1%, cerebral malaria 42.9% and CNS infections 37.1%. Seropositive patients presenting with meningitis and other CNS infections were more likely to die than seronegatives.


This study reports NDs occurring in one fifth of adult medical admissions with stroke and infections as the leading causes. The prevalence of HIV infection in NDs was 20%. The HIV positive cohort was characterized by advanced immunosuppression, CNS infections and high mortality.