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in the supine position the patient can easily and completely extend the leg; in the sitting posture or when lying with the thigh flexed upon the abdomen the leg cannot be completely extended; it is a sign of meningitis.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
Kernig's signAn indication of irritation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the meninges) as in meningitis. Attempts to bend the hip with the knee straight (straight leg raising) cause pain and are strongly opposed by irritative spasm in the hamstring muscles that extend the hip and bend the knee. (Vladimir Michailovich Kernig, 1840–1917, Russian physician).
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005