Objective: To determine the efficacy and safety of fluconazole treatment of coccidioidal meningitis.
Design: Uncontrolled clinical trial.
Setting: Four university-based treatment centers in California, Arizona, and Texas. Most therapy was conducted without hospitalization.
Patients: Fifty consecutive patients with active coccidioidal meningitis, of which 47 (94%) were evaluable. Twenty-five patients had received no previous treatment for their meningitis, and nine had coinfection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Intervention: Fluconazole was administered in an oral dose of 400 mg once per day for up to 4 years (median, 37 months) in responding patients. Concurrent therapy with another antifungal agent was prohibited.
Measurements: Predefined assessment of infection-related abnormalities was done at the time of enrollment and was repeated at least every 4 months during treatment. Elimination of 40% or more of baseline abnormalities was considered a response.
Results: Thirty-seven of 47 (79%; 95% CI, 61% to 90%) evaluable patients responded to treatment. Response rates were similar for patients with and without previous therapy, for patients with and without concomitant HIV infection, and for patients with and without pre-existing hydrocephalus. Most improvement occurred within 4 to 8 months after starting treatment. Patient symptoms resolved more quickly than did cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities. In 15 of 20 responding patients followed for 20 months or more, residual low-level cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities remained throughout therapy. No patient discontinued therapy because of drug-related side effects, although confusion developed in two patients that resolved when the dose of fluconazole was reduced.
Conclusion: Fluconazole therapy is often effective in suppressing coccidioidal meningitis.