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Papers of the Week

2022 Sep




The Spectrum of MRI Findings in Dengue Encephalitis.


Lnu P, Sehgal V, Bhalla Sehgal L, Gulati N, Kapila S
Cureus. 2022 Sep; 14(9):e29048.
PMID: 36237802.


Background In this study, we aimed to describe eight cases of dengue encephalitis along with their magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings. Dengue encephalitis is caused by an arbovirus that has four strains DENV1-DENV4. The dengue virus is usually non-neurotropic but DENV2 & DENV3 are neurotropic. Dengue encephalitis is characterized by headaches, seizures, and altered consciousness. Methodology At our facility, we performed 3T MRI on eight suspected cases of dengue encephalitis using the criteria established by Varatharaj et al. We were able to diagnose dengue encephalitis based on the proposed criteria which included symptoms, serology, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis results, MRI findings, and routine blood laboratory workup in dengue encephalitis. Because numerous brain regions are potentially impacted in severe cases of dengue encephalitis, an MRI of the brain can reveal the severity of the condition. In deteriorating situations, it may detect whether or not further regions are being impacted. Hence, MRI should be done in all suspected cases of dengue encephalitis. Results The changes observed on MRI of the eight cases were in the supra-tentorium (deep periventricular white matter, subcortical white matter, and deep gray matter of the brain, which includes basal ganglia and thalami), infra-tentorium (cerebellar white matter and brainstem, which includes pons), and occasionally in cortical gray matter. The MRI showed mild-to-moderate hyperintensities on T2-weighted images and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery sequence (FLAIR); diffusion restriction is seen on diffusion-weighted images. The neurological clinical features included non-localizing signs and symptoms such as altered mental status, headache with vomiting, and fever. Conclusions The commonly affected areas of the brain in dengue encephalitis are the basal ganglia, thalamus, brainstem, cerebellum, cortical white matter, periventricular white matter, and cortical gray matter, which are all hyperintense on T2-weighted images and FLAIR. The lesions are iso or hypointense on T1-weighted images and micro-hemorrhages appear as blooming on susceptibility-weighted MRI. MRI is a crucial initial investigation in suspected cases of dengue encephalitis and known cases of dengue fever experiencing worsening neurological conditions.