Bell, William E. Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
Last reviewed:September 2019
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- Causes and types
- Bacterial meningitis
- Other types
- Diagnosis and treatment
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is the condition that arises when the meninges are infected by certain pathogenic organisms, leading to inflammation (swelling) [Fig. 1]. Diagnosis of meningitis is made from examination of a specimen of cerebrospinal fluid that is found in the subarachnoid space. The fluid sample is obtained by lumbar puncture (spinal tap) or, less commonly, by a ventricular tap, which requires passage of a needle into the brain tissue. Certain types of meningitis are associated with distinctive abnormalities in the cerebrospinal fluid. With certain types of meningitis, especially bacterial, the causative organism can usually be recovered from the fluid. See also: Brain; Infectious disease; Meninges; Pathogen; Spinal cord; Spinal cord disorders
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