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Subdural effusion

Definition

A subdural effusion is a collection of fluid beneath the outer lining of the brain. If this fluid becomes infected, the condition is called a subdural empyema.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

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

Signs and tests

There is often a recent history of bacterial meningitis. Tests include:

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.

Expectations (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.

Complications

Complications from surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Brain damage
  • Infection

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if:

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

References

Swartz MN. Meningitis: bacterial, viral, and other. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 437.


Review Date: 9/13/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., 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. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. 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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