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J Clin Neurosci. 2011 Sep;18(9):1245-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2011.01.014. Epub 2011 Jul 13.

Cerebral edema and a transtentorial brain herniation syndrome associated with pandemic swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, White Building, Room 502, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Acute encephalitis, encephalopathy, and seizures are known rare neurologic sequelae of respiratory tract infection with seasonal influenza A and B virus, but the neurological complications of the pandemic 2009 swine influenza A (H1N1) virus, particularly in adults, are ill-defined. We document two young adults suffering from H1N1-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome and renal failure who developed cerebral edema. The patients acutely developed a transtentorial brain herniation syndrome including a unilateral third nerve palsy (dilated and unresponsive pupils), elevated intracranial pressure, coma, and radiological evidence of diffuse cerebral edema. In both patients, neurological deterioration occurred in the context of hyponatremia and a systemic inflammatory state. These patients illustrate that severe neurologic complications, including malignant cerebral edema, can occur in adults infected with H1N1 virus, and illustrate the need for close neurological monitoring of potential neurological morbidities in future pandemics.

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