Is neuroimaging (CT scanning, MRI) used in the diagnosis of meningitis?

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

Computed tomography (CT) of the head and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain generally do not aid in the diagnosis of meningitis. Some patients may show meningeal enhancement, but its absence does not rule out the condition. Routinely obtaining CT scans of the head may lead to unnecessary delay in the performance of diagnostic lumbar puncture and the initiation of antibiotic therapy; the latter may be detrimental to the outcome in these patients.


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