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Papers of the Week

2020 May 28

Postgrad Med J

Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES): presentation, diagnosis and treatment.


Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) is a neurological disorder which is characterised by variable symptoms, which include visual disturbances, headache, vomiting, seizures and altered consciousness. The exact pathophysiology of PRES has not been completely explained, but hypertension and endothelial injury seem to be almost always present. Vasoconstriction resulting in vasogenic and cytotoxic edema is suspected to be responsible for the clinical symptoms as well as the neuro-radiological presentation. On imaging studies, Symmetrical white matter abnormalities suggestive of edema are seen in the computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, commonly but not exclusively in the posterior parieto-occipital regions of the cerebral hemispheres. The management is chiefly concerned with stabilization of the patient, adequate and prompt control of blood pressure, prevention of seizures and timely caesarean section in obstetric cases with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. In conclusion, persistently elevated blood pressures remain the chief culprit for the clinical symptoms as well as the neurological deficits. Early diagnosis by diffusion weighted MRI scans, and differentiation from other causes of altered sensorium i.e. seizures, meningitis and psychosis, is extremely important to initiate treatment and prevent further complications. Although most cases resolve successfully and carry a favorable prognosis, patients with inadequate therapeutic support or delay in treatment may not project a positive outcome.