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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 321--323

MR imaging in the diagnosis of Marchiafava–Bignami syndrome

Raina A Tembey, Alpana Karnik, Sanjeev A Mani 
 Department of Radiology and Imaging, Holy Family Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Raina A Tembey
Department of Radiology and Imaging, Holy Family Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Bandra, Mumbai - 400 050, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Tembey RA, Karnik A, Mani SA. MR imaging in the diagnosis of Marchiafava–Bignami syndrome.Neurol India 2019;67:321-323

How to cite this URL:
Tembey RA, Karnik A, Mani SA. MR imaging in the diagnosis of Marchiafava–Bignami syndrome. Neurol India [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Jun 26 ];67:321-323
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Marchiafava–Bignami syndrome (MBS) is a rare demyelinating disorder seen in chronic alcoholics that is characterized by corpus callosal necrosis and associated white matter changes.[1] Although the clinical presentation and symptoms are variable and often nonspecific, the cross-sectional imaging findings are fairly specific and can help in making a diagnosis in the appropriate clinical setting.

The usual chronology of pathological events in MBS is inflammation (acute phase) followed by demyelination, and eventually necrosis and axonal loss. It is usually seen in chronic alcoholics and is usually caused by deficiency of vitamin B complex.[2]

The clinical features include cognitive impairment, neuropsychiatric features, dysarthria, seizures, pyramidal signs, hypertonia, and signs of interhemispheric disconnection. The clinical subtypes are type A, type B, and chronic. The main clinical features of type A are coma and stupor; type B patients have slightly impaired level of consciousness; and chronic cases mainly have cognitive impairment.[2]

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can identify the different radiological stages of the disease ranging from the early stages of diffuse edema of the corpus callosum to the later stages of atrophy and necrosis.

The key finding is demyelination of the corpus callosum, with MRI findings revealing edema of the corpus callosum in the acute phase seen as restricted diffusion on diffusion weighted imaging (DWI).[3] These changes are seen on conventional sequences as well, with an hypointense signal involving the corpus callosum on T1-weighted images (WI), and hyperintense signals on T2WI and fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) imaging.[3],[4] The acute phase may show enhancement of the affected areas on contrast administration.[1] Eventually, follow-up MRI shows cystic changes and atrophy in the chronic phase [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7].[4] Though the condition primarily affects the corpus callosum, lesions may also be found in the corticospinal tracts, hemispheric white matter, and middle cerebellar peduncles.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Figure 4}{Figure 5}{Figure 6}{Figure 7}

These lesions are best seen on MRI and not very accurately on computed tomography (CT), where they may appear hypoattenuated. The corpus callosal lesions are midline and symmetrical in location.[4]

MBS should be considered in the evaluation of alcoholic or malnourished patients who present with acute or subacute neurological symptoms. With the early detection and treatment, the prognosis of MBS may be good even in cases with severe diffusion restriction of complete corpus callosum.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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