Which histologic findings are characteristic of meningococcal meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2018
  • Author: Francisco de Assis Aquino Gondim, MD, PhD, MSc, FAAN; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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During the first few days, the subarachnoid and ventricular exudate contains large numbers of neutrophils and necrotic debris. Intracellular and extracellular bacteria can be demonstrated. The exudate extends along the perivascular spaces into the cortex and cerebral cortex. Purulent material usually is observed in the choroid plexus. With time, the number of mononuclear leukocytes increases, and they predominate by the end of the first week. Fibroblasts also proliferate.

Inflammatory cells infiltrate leptomeningeal and cortical arteries and veins and accumulate in the intima. Thrombosis of small vessels leads to infarction. This pattern is common in autopsied cases.

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