The prevalence of computed tomographic abnormalities of the cerebrum in 100 consecutive children symptomatic with the human immune deficiency virus

Charles DeCarli, L. A. Civitello, P. Brouwers, P. A. Pizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

Qualitative analysis of 100 consecutive computed tomographic (CT) studies of the brain in children with symptomatic but untreated acquired immunodeficiency syndrome was performed. After excluding children with associated medical illnesses that might confound the diagnosis of encephalopathy or alter brain structure, an abnormality of at least one of the measures of ventricular size, cortical atrophy, white matter attenuation (leukoaraiosis), or cerebral calcification was found in 86% of the patients studied. Ventricular enlargement was the most common abnormality, followed by cortical atrophy, leukoaraiosis, and cerebral calcification. Cerebellar atrophy was an unexpected but relatively common finding in 12% of the children. Sixty-five percent of the children were encephalopathic at the time of evaluation. All 16 children with cerebral calcification were encephalopathic and had acquired human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through vertical transmission. Encephalopathic children were significantly younger and had significantly greater abnormality ratings on each CT measure when compared with the nonencephalopathic children. Discriminant analysis using age and the qualitative CT measures was applied as a method to identify the presence of encephalopathy. CT measures proved to have a specificity and a sensitivity of only 76%. We conclude that abnormalities of cerebral structure are seen in a high percentage of children symptomatic with HIV. Although most of the children are encephalopathic, CT abnormalities are seen in children without encephalopathy, suggesting presymptomatic brain disease. The presence of cerebral calcification on CT suggests in utero infection with HIV and the presence of encephalopathy. Although not diagnostic of encephalopathy, routine use of CT in pediatric patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome may add significant additional information about the mode of HIV transmission and potential presymptomatic brain disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Volume34
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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