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Meningitis - Exams and Tests

Diagnosis of meningitis is based on a medical history, a physical exam, and tests.

Your doctor will almost always do a lumbar puncture. This is done by inserting a long, thin needle into the spinal canal. The doctor uses the needle to collect samples of spinal fluid to check for bacteria and viruses.

Recommended Related to Children's Vaccines

Understanding Meningitis -- Diagnosis & Treatment

A procedure called a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, will help determine whether someone has meningitis. During the procedure, an area of the back is injected with an anesthetic, and a needle is slipped between two bones in the spine to obtain a small sample of spinal fluid. The fluid is normally clear, so if it appears cloudy and contains white blood cells, you may have meningitis. Lab analysis will help determine which specific type of meningitis you have -- bacterial, viral, or fungal. Samples...

Read the Understanding Meningitis -- Diagnosis & Treatment article > >

Other tests that may be done include:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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