6 doctors weighed in:

Will an MRI on brain without contrast show if there is inflammation from meningitis?

6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Daniel Ziegler
Emergency Medicine
3 doctors agree

In brief: Not necessarily.

Bacterial meningitis is a devastating disease that must be caught early to prevent permanent damage or even death.
In the beginning stages the only way to make the diagnosis is with a lumbar puncture commonly called a spinal tap. Neuro imaging studies are useful to monitor for complications such as abscesses and brain swelling and can pick up meningitis later in the disease process.

In brief: Not necessarily.

Bacterial meningitis is a devastating disease that must be caught early to prevent permanent damage or even death.
In the beginning stages the only way to make the diagnosis is with a lumbar puncture commonly called a spinal tap. Neuro imaging studies are useful to monitor for complications such as abscesses and brain swelling and can pick up meningitis later in the disease process.
Dr. Daniel Ziegler
Dr. Daniel Ziegler
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Dr. Amy Levine
Radiology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Meningitis on MRI

Sometimes it is possible to see thickening of meninges on non contrast mri.
However, it is better to have contrast to see enhancement. That said, the definitive test is a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) as an MRI may not always show a meningeal abnormality especially in early disease. And MRI can have false positive if performed after lumbar puncture.

In brief: Meningitis on MRI

Sometimes it is possible to see thickening of meninges on non contrast mri.
However, it is better to have contrast to see enhancement. That said, the definitive test is a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) as an MRI may not always show a meningeal abnormality especially in early disease. And MRI can have false positive if performed after lumbar puncture.
Dr. Amy Levine
Dr. Amy Levine
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