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Postgrad Med J. 2001 January; 77(903): 24–28.
PMCID: PMC1741870

Posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome

Abstract

Posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome is a newly recognised brain disorder that predominantly affects the cerebral white matter. Oedematous lesions particularly involve the posterior parietal and occipital lobes, and may spread to basal ganglia, brain stem, and cerebellum. This rapidly evolving neurological condition is clinically characterised by headache, nausea and vomiting, seizures, visual disturbances, altered sensorium, and occasionally focal neurological deficit. Posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome is often associated with an abrupt increase in blood pressure and is usually seen in patients with eclampsia, renal disease, and hypertensive encephalopathy. It is also seen in the patients treated with cytotoxic and immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporin, tacrolimus, and interferon alfa. The lesions of posterior leukoencephalopathy are best visualised with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. T2 weighted MR images, at the height of symptoms, characteristically show diffuse hyperintensity selectively involving the parieto-occipital white matter. Occasionally the lesions also involve the grey matter. Computed tomography can also be used satisfactorily to detect hypodense lesions of posterior leukoencephalopathy. Early recognition of this condition is of paramount importance because prompt control of blood pressure or withdrawal of immunosuppressive agents will cause reversal of the syndrome. Delay in the diagnosis and treatment can result in permanent damage to affected brain tissues.


Keywords: leukoencephalopathy; eclampsia; hypertensive encephalopathy; occipital lobe seizures


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