Recurrent meningitis in children is not only a potentially life threatening condition, but often involves the child in the trauma of repeated hospital admissions and multiple and invasive investigations to try and find an underlying cause. Symptoms and signs of CSF rhinorrhoea or otorrhoea are infrequent in these patients. Unilateral deafness may be difficult to diagnose in the young child. Full ENT examination may be normal.
We report seven cases of children with recurrent meningitis in whom inner ear abnormalities were only indicated as the site of entry of infection by hypocycloidal tomography or high resolution CT scanning of the temporal bone. Subsequent tympanotomy confirmed the site of the CSF leak as the oval window in the majority of cases; packing the vestibule with muscle halted further attacks in these patients.