Neuroimaging features of heroin inhalation toxicity: "chasing the dragon"

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2003 Mar;180(3):847-50. doi: 10.2214/ajr.180.3.1800847.


Objective: Our objective was to illustrate the dramatic neuroimaging findings of toxic leukoencephalopathy caused by heroin vapor inhalation.

Conclusion: Symmetric abnormality involving the cerebellar white matter and posterior limb of the internal capsule is characteristic of heroin vapor inhalation toxicity, although involvement may be more extensive, depending on the severity of the condition. MR imaging and CT appear to be essential for making this diagnosis because clinical history is often unreliable and findings at physical examination are nonspecific.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Brain Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Heroin / administration & dosage
  • Heroin / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage
  • Narcotics / poisoning*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Narcotics
  • Heroin