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Neurology. 2006 May 9;66(9):1304-9; discussion 1291.

Diffusion MRI abnormalities after prolonged febrile seizures with encephalopathy.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Kameda Medical Center, Kamogawa, Japan.



Patients with encephalopathy heralded by a prolonged seizure as the initial symptom often have abnormal subcortical white matter on diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI).


To determine if these patients share other common features.


Patients with encephalopathy heralded by a prolonged seizure and followed by the identification of abnormal subcortical white matter on MRI were collected retrospectively. Their clinical, laboratory, and radiologic data were reviewed.


Seventeen patients were identified, ages 10 months to 4 years. All had a prolonged febrile seizure (longer than 1 hour in 12 patients) as their initial symptom. Subsequent seizures, most often in clusters of complex partial seizures, were seen 4 to 6 days after the initial seizure in 16 patients. Outcome ranged from almost normal to severe mental retardation. MRI performed within 2 days of presentation showed no abnormality. Subcortical white matter lesions were observed on DWI between 3 and 9 days in all 17 patients. T2-weighted images showed linear high intensity of subcortical U fibers in 13 patients. The lesions were predominantly frontal or frontoparietal in location with sparing of the perirolandic region. The diffusion abnormality disappeared between days 9 and 25, and cerebral atrophy was detected later than 2 weeks. Three patients having only frontal lesions had relatively good clinical outcome.


Although the pathophysiologic mechanism remains unknown, these patients seem to have a distinctive encephalopathy syndrome. MRI is helpful in establishing the diagnosis of this encephalopathy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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