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Diseases reference index «Subdural effusion»

A subdural effusion is a collection of pus beneath the outer lining of the brain.


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.


  • Bulging fontanelles
  • Increased head circumference
  • Lethargy
  • Persistent fever
  • Seizures
  • Separated sutures
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Exams and Tests

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

  • CT scan of the head
  • MRI scan of the head
  • Ultrasound of the head


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.

Outlook (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.

Possible Complications

Complications from surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Damage to brain structures, which can lead to temporary or permanent brain and nervous system (neurological) problems
  • Infection

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

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

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