Early development of vasogenic edema in experimental cerebral fat embolism in cats: correlation with MRI and electron microscopic findings

Invest Radiol. 2001 Aug;36(8):460-9. doi: 10.1097/00004424-200108000-00005.


Rationale and objectives: To evaluate the magnetic resonance imaging and electron microscopic findings of the hyperacute stage of cerebral fat embolism in cats and the time needed for the development of vasogenic edema.

Methods: Magnetic resonance imaging was performed at 30 minutes (group 1, n = 9) and at 30 minutes and 1, 2, 4, and 6 hours after embolization with triolein (group 2, n = 10). As a control for group 2, the same acquisition was obtained after embolization with polyvinyl alcohol particles (group 3, n = 5). Magnetic resonance images were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. Electron microscopic examination was done in all cats.

Results: In group 1, the lesions were iso- or slightly hyperintense on T2-weighted (T2W) and diffusion-weighted (DWIs) images, hypointense on the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) map image, and markedly enhanced on the gadolinium-enhanced T1-weighted images (Gd-T1WIs). In group 2 at 30 minutes, the lesions were similar to those in group 1. Thereafter, the lesions became more hyperintense on T2WIs and DWIs and more hypointense on the ADC map image. The lesions were enhanced on Gd-T1WIs at all acquisition times. In group 3, the lesions showed mild hyperintensity on T2WIs at 6 hours but hypointensity on the ADC map image from 30 minutes, with a tendency toward a greater decrease over time. The lesions were not enhanced on Gd-T1WIs at any time point. Electron microscopic findings revealed discontinuity of the capillary endothelial wall, perivascular and interstitial edema, and swelling of glial and neuronal cells in groups 1 and 2. Cellular swelling and interstitial edema were more prominent in group 2. In group 3, interstitial edema was seen; however, discontinuity of the endothelial wall was absent.

Conclusions: The lesions were hyperintense on T2WIs and DWIs, hypointense on the ADC map image, and enhanced on Gd-T1WIs. On electron microscopy, the lesions showed cytotoxic and vasogenic edema with disruption of the blood-brain barrier. Vasogenic edema seems to develop within 30 minutes in cerebral fat embolism in cats.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Edema / etiology*
  • Brain Edema / pathology*
  • Cats
  • Contrast Media
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Embolism, Fat / complications*
  • Embolism, Fat / pathology*
  • Gadolinium
  • Intracranial Embolism / complications*
  • Intracranial Embolism / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Microscopy, Electron*


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium