Inflammatory Diseases of the Meninges

  • Stefan Rohde
Part of the Medical Radiology book series (MEDRAD)


Neuroimaging is of major importance in all cases of suspected infectious meningitis in order to get quick information about the extent of the disease, typical lesion patterns, and potential complications, such as hydrocephalus, involvement of the underlying brain parenchyma, or vasculitis. In bacterial meningitis, abnormal and asymmetrical enhancement of the leptomeninges and the subarachnoid space is typical. Initial neuroimaging has to rule out infectious foci of the skull base such as purulent sinusitis or mastoiditis. In patients with focal deficits or seizures, MRI is the tool of choice to diagnose vascular or septic complications. Neoplastic, viral, or fungal infections of the CNS may present with similar changes of the meninges; however, fungal meningitis normally causes a thicker and more nodular enhancement. In case of basal accentuation of the leptomeningeal contrast enhancement and conspicuous signal changes in the basal cisterns, one has to consider tuberculous meningitis for differential diagnosis, especially in patients with HIV infection. Non-infectious causes of meningeal enhancement comprise several primary and secondary tumors (e.g., CNS lymphoma, medulloblastoma, or breast cancer), granulomatous diseases, intracranial hypotension, and post-operative changes.


Bacterial Meningitis Cranial Nerve Palsy Tuberculous Meningitis Intracranial Hypotension Basal Cistern 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of NeuroradiologyHeidelberg University Medical CenterHeidelbergGermany

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