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    Subdural effusion

    A subdural effusion is a collection of fluid trapped between the surface of the brain and the outer lining of the brain (the dura matter). If this fluid becomes infected, the condition is called a subdural empyema.

    Causes

    A subdural effusion is a rare complication of bacterial meningitis. Subdural effusion is more common in infants and in persons who have meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae.

    Symptoms

    • Bulging fontanelles in babies
    • Increased head circumference
    • Lethargy
    • Persistent fever
    • Seizures
    • Separated sutures in babies
    • Vomiting
    • Weakness or loss of movement on both sides of the body

    Exams and Tests

    The doctor or nurse will examine you.Tests include:

    • CT scan of the head
    • Head size (circumference) measurements
    • MRI scan of the head
    • Ultrasound of the head

    Treatment

    Surgery to drain the effusion is often necessary. Rarely, a permanent drainage device (shunt) is needed to drain fluid. Antibiotics may need to be given through a vein.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Full recovery from a subdural effusion is expected. If neurological problems continue, they are generally due to the meningitis, not the effusion. Long-term use of antibiotics is usually not necessary.

    Possible Complications

    Complications from surgery include:

    • Bleeding
    • Brain damage
    • Infection

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if:

    • Your child has recently been treated for meningitis and symptoms continue
    • New symptoms develop

    References

    Koshy A, Roos K. Infections of the nervous system: bacterial and fungal. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley’s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 53C.

    Swartz MN, Nath A. Meningitis: bacterial, viral, and other. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 420.

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          A Closer Look

            Tests for Subdural effusion

              Review Date: 8/29/2012

              Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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              St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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