What is the role of lumbar puncture in the diagnosis of viral meningitis?

Updated: Jul 17, 2018
  • Author: Cordia Wan, MD; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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LP is the most important procedure used in the diagnosis of viral meningitis. Other potential procedures, depending on individual indications and disease severity, include intracranial pressure monitoring, brain biopsy, and ventricular drainage or shunting. [12]

CT scanning is usually performed prior to LP to rule out intracranial hematoma, mass effect, or obstructive hydrocephalus. The LP itself may provide significant symptomatic relief, presumably due to the decrease in intracranial pressure. LP should be performed in the standard sterile fashion, and the CSF opening pressure should be measured. Coagulopathy due to intrinsic or extrinsic factors (eg, warfarin) is a relative contraindication to LP. The clinician should exercise caution and, as for all medical procedures, weigh the risks and benefits associated with each individual case.

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