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Handb Clin Neurol. 2016;135:603-636. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53485-9.00029-5.

Inherited or acquired metabolic disorders.

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Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Neurology, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA.


This chapter starts with a description of imaging of inherited metabolic disorders, followed by a discussion on imaging of acquired toxic-metabolic disorders of the adult brain. Neuroimaging is crucial for the diagnosis and management of a number of inherited metabolic disorders. Among these, inherited white-matter disorders commonly affect both the nervous system and endocrine organs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has enabled new classifications of these disorders that have greatly enhanced both our diagnostic ability and our understanding of these complex disorders. Beyond the classic leukodystrophies, we are increasingly recognizing new hereditary leukoencephalopathies such as the hypomyelinating disorders. Conventional imaging can be unrevealing in some metabolic disorders, but proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) may be able to directly visualize the metabolic abnormality in certain disorders. Hence, neuroimaging can enhance our understanding of pathogenesis, even in the absence of a pathologic specimen. This review aims to present pathognomonic brain MRI lesion patterns, the diagnostic capacity of proton MRS, and information from clinical and laboratory testing that can aid diagnosis. We demonstrate that applying an advanced neuroimaging approach enhances current diagnostics and management. Additional information on inherited and metabolic disorders of the brain can be found in Chapter 63 in the second volume of this series.


Metabolic; basal ganglia; dysmyelinating; encephalopathy; genetic; inherited; lysosomal disease; magnetic resonance imaging; magnetic resonance spectroscopy

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