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Q J Med. 1991 Oct;81(294):857-70.

Neurological manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus: a prospective study.

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University Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong.


A prospective study of the neurological manifestations in all patients with systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) was conducted between February 1985 to January 1989. Excluding herpes zoster infection of peripheral or cranial nerves, post-herpetic neuralgia and migraine, 36 neurological episodes occurred in 33 patients. The presenting symptoms were mental confusion (10), psychosis (five), seizures (six), focal neurological deficit (three), coma (two), headache (five), blurring of vision (three), neuropathy (one) and myelopathy (one). Of these manifestations, only eight episodes were due to primary involvement by SLE: psychosis (two), seizure (two), multiple cerebral infarcts (one), papillitis (one), neuropathy (one) and myelopathy (one). Infection was the most common secondary cause of neurological episodes: all 10 episodes of mental confusion (fungal seven, pyogenic two, tuberculous one, nocardial one); two of six seizures (tuberculous one, pyogenic one); all five headaches (tuberculous meningitis three, cryptococcal meningitis two). The other secondary causes included steroid psychosis (two), hypertensive encephalopathy with seizure (one) and hypertensive retinopathy (one). Three of five cases of focal neurological deficit were due to macrovascular disease rather than to vasculitic infarction. We concluded that cerebral psychosis was a relatively rare presentation in our patients with SLE. In patients who presented with a neurological problem, especially mental confusion, efforts should be made to ascertain the underlying cause, especially if this may be an infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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