JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Computed tomographic findings after acute carbon monoxide poisoning.

Selective necrosis and degeneration of the globus pallidus are characteristic autopsy findings in patients with severe carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. The objective of this study was to show that computed tomography (CT) may demonstrate these morphological changes in the brain during life, and provide a clue to prognosis. The authors reviewed the medical records of 19 consecutive patients with acute CO poisoning who underwent CT examination during hospitalization. Abnormal CT findings were found in 10 of the 19 patients (53%). The most common abnormal findings were low-density areas in the basal ganglia. These lesions were found in 7 of the 10 cases, and varied from small (limited to the globus pallidus) to large (extending to the internal capsule). Of the 10 patients with abnormal CT scans, 9 survived to hospital discharge but all had some degree of functional neurological impairment. Eighty-nine percent (8 of 9) of the patients with normal CT scans were discharged neurologically intact. Awareness of the potential for basal ganglia lesions in CO poisoning should lead to more accurate CT interpretation and may have significant prognostic implications.

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