A subdural effusion is a collection of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 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.
A subdural effusion is a rare complication of meningitis caused by bacteria. Subdural effusion is more common in infants.
Subdural effusion may also occur after head trauma.
Symptoms may include:
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask about the symptoms.
To detect the subdural effusion, tests that may be done include:
Surgery to drain the effusion is often necessary. In rare cases, a permanent drainage device (shunt) is needed to drain fluid. Antibiotics may need to be given through a vein.
Treatment may include:
Full recovery from a subdural effusion is expected. If nervous system problems continue, they are generally due to the meningitis, not the effusion. Long-term antibiotics are usually not needed.
Complications of surgery may include:
Contact your provider if:
De Vries LS, Volpe JJ. Bacterial and fungal intracranial infections. In: Volpe JJ, Inder TE, Darras BT, et al, eds. Volpe's Neurology of the Newborn. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 35.
Kim KS. Bacterial meningitis beyond the neonatal period. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 31.
Nath A. Meningitis: bacterial, viral, and other. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 384.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/26/2022
Reviewed By: Evelyn O. Berman, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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