Therapy and differential diagnosis of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) during pregnancy and postpartum

Mauro Cozzolino, Claudia Bianchi, Giulia Mariani, Laura Marchi, Massimiliano Fambrini, Federico Mecacci
Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics 2015, 292 (6): 1217-23

PURPOSE: Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) is an usually reversible neuro-radiological clinical entity characterized by headache, confusion, visual disturbances or blindness and seizures. It rarely occurs without seizures.

METHODS: We conducted a literature review in MEDLINE about PRES during post partum and pregnancy, focusing on differential diagnosis and therapy. We reviewed 28 articles (case reports, original articles and reviews) describing PRES as well as a case of a severe, immediate postpartum HELLP syndrome (haemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels, low platelet count) with PRES without generalized seizure.

RESULTS: The development of PRES after delivery is unusual. Magnetic resonance imaging represents the gold standard for the diagnosis of this condition. White matter oedema in the posterior cerebral hemispheres is typical on neuroimaging. PRES is reversible when early diagnosis is established and appropriate treatment is started without delay. The pathogenesis of PRES is discussed and the importance of a prompt diagnosis is emphasized, as the crucial role of rapid blood press reduction.

CONCLUSION: MRI is the diagnostic gold standard and it may be useful in the differential diagnosis. The goal of the therapy is to control elevated blood pressure and to prevent seizures or promptly manage it.

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