Bacterial meningitis physical examination
Bacterial meningitis Microchapters
Physical examination of bacterial meningitis may vary in adults and infants. In adults, physical examination findings may include bradycardia, disorientation, papilledema, neck stiffness, positive brudzinski's and kernig's sign. Physical examination findings in infants may include petechial rash, bulging fontanelle, neck stiffness, jaundice and convulsions.
Physical examination of bacterial meningitis may vary in adults and in infants. Patient may present with the classic triad of illness such as fever, neck stiffness and altered mental status. This classic triad is an emergency situation and may prompt management stratgey. Complications of bacterial meningitis may change the clinical presentation and patient may present with hypotension, and other signs of shock. Following signs may suggest bacterial meningitis:
The physical examination findings in adults may include the following:
- Patient may look distressed
- Altered mental status-not oriented in time, place and person
- Bradycardia may indicate increased intracranial pressure
- Increased or decreased temperature
- Signs of infection indicating sinusitis, mastoiditis, and otitis media may help identify the source of infection and give a clue about diagnosis.
- Papilledema may indicate increased intracranial pressure.
- Neck stiffness is strongly suggestive of meningitis.
- Decreased heart rate indicates increased intracranial pressure
- Signs of neurological deficit may or may not be present.
- Presence of cranial nerve palsy may suggest complications-present in 10-20% of patients
- III, IV, VI cranial nerve palsies are common
- Cranial nerve palsies may present due to increased ICP
- Motor or sensory deficit may result from vascular inflammation or thrombosis
- Generalized tonic clonic seizures may occur within 48 hours of admission-20-30% of patients
- Focal seizures may indicate cerebral injury
- Presence of skin rash may indicate Neisseria meningitidis infection
Following are the special tests for meningitis. Positive tests provide a strong suspicion for meningeal irritation:
- Postive kernig's sign indicate meningitis.
- Positive brudzinski's sign may suggest meningitis
- Jolt accentualtion:
- Exacerbation of headache by moving head in horizontal direction two to three times indicate positive test.
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