Post-infectious encephalitis in adults: diagnosis and management.

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Post-infectious encephalitis in adults: diagnosis and management.

J Infect. 2009 May;58(5):321-8

Authors: Sonneville R, Klein I, de Broucker T, Wolff M

Many important central nervous system (CNS) syndromes can develop following microbial infections. The most severe forms of post-infectious encephalitis include acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), acute hemorrhagic leukoencephalitis and Bickerstaff's brainstem encephalitis. ADEM is an inflammatory demyelinating disorder of the CNS. It typically follows a minor infection with a 2-30 days latency period and is thought to be immune-mediated. It is clinically characterized by the acute onset of focal neurological signs and encephalopathy. Patients can require intensive care unit admission because of coma, seizures or tetraplegia. Cerebrospinal fluid analysis usually shows lymphocytic pleocytosis but, unlike viral or bacterial encephalitis, no evidence of direct CNS infection is found. There are no biologic markers of the disease and cerebral magnetic resonance imaging is essential to diagnosis, detecting diffuse or multifocal asymmetrical lesions throughout the white matter on T2- and FLAIR-weighted sequences. High-dose intravenous steroids are accepted as first-line therapy and beneficial effects of plasma exchanges and intravenous immunoglobulins have also been reported. Outcome of ADEM is usually favorable but recurrent or multiphasic forms have been described.

PMID: 19368974 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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