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Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges and can be diagnosed using laboratory and imaging studies.
There are several clinical signs and symptoms that may raise the suspicion of meningitis. However, before diagnosing meningitis other conditions that have similar clinical presentation need to be ruled out. These include:
Whatever may be the cause, symptoms of meningitis should be dealt with as a priority and on an emergency basis since the course of the disease may turn rapidly life threatening and fatal.
Investigations suggested for diagnosis of meningitis include lumbar puncture, complete blood count and so forth.
This is performed immediately providing there are no signs of raised intracranial pressure. This includes bad headache, raised fontanelle among babies, seizures, loss of consciousness etc.)
Samples of cerebrospinal fluid taken from the lumbar puncture are sent to the laboratory for staining with special dyes that reveal the organism leading to meningitis.
The common stains and tests used are:
During early stages the CSF may be normal.