What is the sensitivity and specificity of Gram staining of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for bacterial meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2019
  • Author: Rodrigo Hasbun, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Gram staining of the CSF permits rapid identification of the bacterial cause in 60-90% of patients with bacterial meningitis. The presence of bacteria is 100% specific, but the sensitivity of this test for detection is variable. The likelihood of detection is higher in the presence of a higher bacterial concentration and diminishes with prior antibiotic use.


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