Author(s): Nakao JH, Jafri FN, Shah K, Newman DH
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Abstract Jolt accentuation or exacerbation of a baseline headache with horizontal rotation of the neck is a physical finding believed to assess for meningeal irritation. We conducted a prospective observational study of neurologically intact emergency department (ED) patients undergoing lumbar puncture in 2 inner city academic EDs to validate the sensitivity and specificity of jolt accentuation and to assess the sensitivity and specificity of Kernig sign, Brudzinski sign, and nuchal rigidity, in predicting cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pleocytosis in individuals being assessed for meningitis. Adult patients 18 years and older undergoing lumbar puncture between 2006 and 2009 were approached for consent. Exclusions included inability to consent and altered mental status. Physicians were asked to answer a questionnaire of physical examination findings before receiving CSF results. The primary outcome was the presence or absence of pleocytosis, defined as greater than or equal to 5 cells/high-power field in the fourth CSF tube. We calculated descriptive statistics and tests of diagnostic accuracy. A total of 230 patients consented for participation and had CSF white blood cell counts recorded. Forty-seven individuals (20\%) had pleocytosis. A total of 197 patients had headache and were, hence, eligible for jolt accentuation assessment. For pleocytosis, the sensitivity of jolt accentuation was 21\%, Kernig sign was 2\%, Brudzinski sign was 2\%, and nuchal rigidity was 13\%. The specificity of jolt accentuation was 82\%, Kernig sign was 97\%, Brudzinski sign was 98\%, and nuchal rigidity was 80\%. Jolt accentuation in our cohort was poorly predictive of pleocytosis and insensitive. The presence of Kernig sign, Brudzinski sign, or nuchal rigidity has moderate positive but no negative predictive value for pleocytosis. © 2013.
This article was published in Am J Emerg Med
and referenced in Emergency Medicine: Open Access