Contrast-enhanced flair imaging in the evaluation of infectious leptomeningeal diseases

Hemant Parmar, Yih-Yian Sitoh, Pooja Anand, Violet Chua, Francis Hui
European Journal of Radiology 2006, 58 (1): 89-95

PURPOSE: The purpose of our study was to compare contrast-enhanced fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) images with contrast-enhanced T1 weighted images for infectious leptomeningitis.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We studied twenty-four patients with a clinical suspicion of infectious meningitis with unenhanced FLAIR, contrast-enhanced T1 weighted and contrast-enhanced FLAIR MR sequences. Twelve patients had cytologic and biochemical diagnosis of meningitis on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination obtained 48 h before or after the MR study. Sequences were considered positive if abnormal signal was seen in the subarachnoid space (cistern or sulci) or along pial surface.

RESULTS: Twenty-seven examinations in 24 patients were performed. Of the 12 patients (thirteen studies) in whom cytology was positive, unenhanced FLAIR images were positive in six cases (sensitivity 46%), contrast-enhanced FLAIR images were positive in 11 (sensitivity 85%), and contrast-enhanced T1 weighted MR images were positive in 11 patients (sensitivity 85%). Of the 12 patients (14 studies) in whom cerebrospinal fluid study was negative, unenhanced FLAIR images were negative in 13, contrast-enhanced FLAIR images were negative in 11, and contrast-enhanced T1 weighted MR images were negative in eight. Thus, the specificity of unenhanced FLAIR, contrast-enhanced FLAIR and contrast-enhanced T1 weighted images was 93, 79 and 57%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that post-contrast FLAIR images have similar sensitivity but a higher specificity compared to contrast-enhanced T1 weighted images for detection of leptomeningeal enhancement. It can be a useful adjunct to post-contrast T1 weighted images in evaluation of infectious leptomeningitis.

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