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Revista médica de Chile

Print version ISSN 0034-9887


CERVILLA O, Jorge; CARTIER R, Luis  and  GARCIA F, Luis. Brain and spinal cord magnetic resonance imaging in spastic paraparesis associated to human T-lymphotropic virus. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2006, vol.134, n.8, pp.1010-1018. ISSN 0034-9887.

Background: The spastic paraparesis associated to HTLV-1 causes degenerative pyramidal tract lesions of the spinal cord and affects cortical-nuclear connections in the brain. Aim: To report the findings of magnetic resonance imaging in patients with spastic paraparesis. Material and methods: A magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and spinal cord was performed in 30 patients (24 females), mean age and evolution of 56 and 12 years respectively, with a clinical and virological diagnosis of tropical spastic paraparesis/HTLV-1 associated myelopathy (TSP/HAM). Results: No patient had abnormal signals in the spinal cord parenchyma. However, an atrophy of the dorsal segment was observed in 87% of patients. Patients with the highest degree of atrophy showed a higher degree of functional impairment. Eleven patients had spinal cord conus atrophy, associated to neurogenic bladder or impotency. In 80% of patients, hyperintense subcortical white matter images in DP, T2 and Flair, mostly bi frontal, were detected. In half of them, small rounded and isolated images were observed. In the other half, eight or more images, generally larger and occasionally confluent, were found. Ten of 12 patients with confluent brain lesions showed different degrees of cognitive impairment. No patient had lesions in the corpus callosus, periventricular white matter, pons, medulla oblongata or cerebellum. Conclusions: Most patients with tropical spastic paraparesis have alterations in brain or spinal cord magnetic resonance imaging. The magnetic resonance lesions are concordant with functional impairment. The characteristics of the imaging in TSP/HAM patients can be helpful in the differential diagnosis of patients with paraparesis (Rev Méd Chile 2006; 134: 1011-20).

Keywords : Human T-lymphotropic virus 1; Magnetic resonance imaging; Paraparesis, tropical spastic.

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