Bilateral thalamic infarction. Clinical, etiological and MRI correlates

Acta Neurol Scand. 2001 Jan;103(1):35-42. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0404.2001.00141.x.


To determine clinical, behavioral, topographic and etiological patterns in patients with simultaneous bilateral thalamic infarction in varied thalamic artery territories, we studied 16 patients who were admitted to our stroke unit over a 7-year period. Patients with bithalamic infarction represented 0.6% of our registry which included 2,750 ischaemic stroke patients. On computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging with gadolinium enhancement, there were 4 topographic patterns of infarction: 1) bilateral infarcts in the territory of paramedian artery (8 patients [50%]); 2) bilateral infarcts in the territory of thalamogeniculate arteries (3 patients [19%]); 3) bilateral infarcts involving territory of paramedian and thalamogeniculate arteries (3 patients [19%]); 4) bilateral infarcts involving territory of polar and thalamogeniculate arteries (2 patients [13%]). A specific clinical picture was found in up to 50% of the patients with bithalamic infarction. This included patients with bilateral paramedian infarction having disorder of consciousness, memory dysfunctions, various types of vertical gaze palsy and psychic changes. Bilateral sensory loss predicted accurately bilateral infarction in the territory of thalamogeniculate arteries. The main cause of bilateral thalamic infarction was small artery-disease, followed by cardioembolism. Cognitive functions in patients with bilateral paramedian infarction did not change significantly during the follow-up, in contrast to those with infarcts in varied arterial territories. Acute bilateral infarction involving both thalamus is uncommon, although they are often associated with specific neurologic-neuropsychological patterns, allowing diagnosis before radiological examination.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Infarction / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Infarction / etiology
  • Cerebral Infarction / physiopathology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Embolism / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Embolism / etiology
  • Intracranial Embolism / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Thalamic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Thalamic Diseases / etiology
  • Thalamic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Thalamus / blood supply*