Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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CASE REPORT
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 252-255

Cerebral fat embolism: Use of MR spectroscopy for accurate diagnosis


Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Science, Arkansas, USA

Correspondence Address:
Laxmi Kokatnur
601 Napa Valley Drive, Apt 234. Little Rock
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.150604

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Cerebral fat embolism (CFE) is an uncommon but serious complication following orthopedic procedures. It usually presents with altered mental status, and can be a part of fat embolism syndrome (FES) if associated with cutaneous and respiratory manifestations. Because of the presence of other common factors affecting the mental status, particularly in the postoperative period, the diagnosis of CFE can be challenging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of brain typically shows multiple lesions distributed predominantly in the subcortical region, which appear as hyperintense lesions on T2 and diffusion weighted images. Although the location offers a clue, the MRI findings are not specific for CFE. Watershed infarcts, hypoxic encephalopathy, disseminated infections, demyelinating disorders, diffuse axonal injury can also show similar changes on MRI of brain. The presence of fat in these hyperintense lesions, identified by MR spectroscopy as raised lipid peaks will help in accurate diagnosis of CFE. Normal brain tissue or conditions producing similar MRI changes will not show any lipid peak on MR spectroscopy. We present a case of CFE initially misdiagnosed as brain stem stroke based on clinical presentation and cranial computed tomography (CT) scan, and later, MR spectroscopy elucidated the accurate diagnosis.


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