Object. In the present study the authors compared the incidence and risk factors for external drainage-related bacterial meningitis (ED-BM) by using ventricular and lumbar catheters. Methods. A cohort of 230 consecutive patients with ED was evaluated. Cerebrospinal fluid samples were obtained daily for microbiological culture, and ED-BM was defined based on culture results in combination with clinical symptoms. The incidence of ED-BM was 7% in lumbar and 15% in ventricular drains. Independent risk factors included site leakage, drain blockage, and most importantly duration of ED. Despite a higher infection rate, ventricular catheters did not have a significant higher risk of infection after correcting for duration of drainage. Conclusions. Analysis of data in the present study showed that the incidence of ED-associated death is low (0.45%) in patients who do not receive continuous antibiotic prophylaxis during ED.