Journal of Hong Kong College of Radiologists

Volume 7 Number 2, 2004

J HK Coll Radiol 2004;7:84-87

Spongiform Leukoencephalopathy after Intravenous Heroin Use: Evaluation by Diffusion-weighted Imaging

JCW Siu, EYK Tsui
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Tuen Mun Hospital, Hong Kong

Spongiform leukoencephalopathy is a distinct pathological entity usually following inhalation of heroin, while spongiform leukoencephalopathy resulting from intravenous injection of heroin is very rare. The magnetic resonance imaging findings are non-specific with widespread symmetrical high-signal lesions in white matter. This report is of an intravenous heroin addict who presented with clinical features of encephalopathy with restricted diffusion on diffusion-weighted imaging. Diffusion weighted imaging distinguished this drug-induced encephalopathy from other types of leukoencephalopathy. This is the third case report of spongiform leukocenpahalopathy showing restricted diffusion on diffusion-weighted imaging in the English literature.

Key Words: Diffusion-weighted imaging, Heroin, Leukoencephalopathy, Magnetic resonance imaging, Spongiform

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