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with the patient supine, and the thighs and knees flexed, the legs cannot be passively extended at the knees; a sign of meningeal irritation, specifically, involuntary contraction of the hamstring muscles due to irritation of the nerve roots supplying them.
Kernig signNeurology Pt lies on back and flexes thigh upward, then complete extension of leg is impossible, typical of meningitis, see there.
Ker·nig sign(ker'nig sīn)
When a subject is supine and the thigh is flexed to a right angle with the axis of the trunk, complete extension of the leg on the thigh is impossible due to pain; present in various forms of meningitis.
Kernig,Vladimir, Russian physician, 1840-1917.
Kernig sign - a failure of leg extension present in various forms of meningitis.