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Central Nervous System Infections

Central nervous system (CNS) includes the brain, spinal cord and the associated membranes. It is very hard for CNS to get infected but under some circumstances, bacteria, virus, worms, fungus or other organisms can invade it. The main infections of CNS include the following:

  • Meningitis

  • Encephalitis

  • Brain abscesses or emphysema

Infections of CNS tend to cause more morbidity and mortality on average than infections involving other organ systems

Causes of CNS infection

  • Direct entry into cranial cavity

  • Transfer from other body organs through blood

  • Trauma

  • Surgery

Symptoms of CNS infection

Symptoms of CNS infection depend upon the location, severity and causative organism of infection. Most commonly patient experiences following symptoms:

  • Severe headache

  • Back pain

  • Sensory loss

  • Fever

  • Neck stiffness

  • Nausea & vomiting

  • Disorientation

  • Tiredness

  • Seizure

  • Paralysis

  • Comma

Diagnosis of CNS infection

Diagnosis of CNS infection starts with a complete history and physical examination of the patient. This is followed by following diagnostic tests:

  • Blood tests to find the presence of infection

  • CT scan and MRI scan of the brain and spine to find location of infection

  • Lumbar puncture of the cerebrospinal fluid

  • EEG

Authored By Dr. Manish Vaish

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