Reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome: a retrospective study in King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital

Chaiwiwat Tungkasaereerak, Kammant Phanthumchinda
Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand 2008, 91 (3): 427-32

BACKGROUND: Reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy (RPLE) or reversible posterior cerebral edema syndrome is a syndrome characterized by transient focal or diffused neurological deficits and reversible neuroimaging changes. RPLE is often associated with hypertension and systemic illness. The classical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRl) feature of RPLE is predominately involvement of bilateral posterior cerebral white matter. Due to availability of MRI technology, this entity has been reported more frequently

MATERIAL AND METHOD: The clinical recordings were searched from data bases at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital from 2003 to 2005. Keywords were "leukoencephalopathy" and "hypertensive encephalopathy". Neuroimaging criteria for the diagnosis of RPLE were bilateral symmetrical cortical-subcortical white matter lesions predominantly affecting the occipital lobe. The data were reviewed. Cases with RPLE were recruited and analyzed.

RESULTS: Nine patients (female:male, 8:1), ranged in age from 17 to 39 years (average, 26 years) were analyzed. Five patients had acute hypertension associated with renal failure, 1 had acute hypertension without renal impairment, 2 had eclampsia and 1 was associated with cyclosporine therapy. Most common clinical symptoms were seizure and cortical blindness. MRI revealed bilateral occipital white matter edema in 7/8 patients while computerized tomography demonstrated this feature in 3/9 patients. Other MRI abnormalities were detected in frontal lobes, parietal lobes, deep grey nuclei, brainstem and cerebellum. The patients were treated with antihypertensive drugs, antiepileptics and withdrawal from immunosuppressive therapy. In 8 patients, the neurological deficits recovered within 2 weeks. The case with cyclosporine therapy had residuals in the form of limb weakness and spasticity.

CONCLUSION: RPLE is associated with hypertension, systemic autoimmune diseases, renal impairment, immunosuppressive therapy or eclampsia. The neuroimaging findings reveal characteristic white matter vasogenic edema in occipital lobes as well as other cortical areas and deep grey matter. Good clinical outcomes occur after prompt symptomatic treatment with antihypertensive drugs, antiepileptics or withdrawal from immunosuppressive therapy and repeated neuroimaging may not be necessary.

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