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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.
Etymology: Vladimir M. Kernig, Russian physician, 1840-1917
a diagnostic sign for meningitis marked by a loss of the ability of a supine patient to completely straighten the leg when it is fully flexed at the knee and hip. Pain in the lower back and resistance to straightening the leg constitutes a positive Kernig's sign. Usually the patient can extend the leg completely when the thigh is not flexed on the abdomen. Compare Brudzinski's sign.