Purpose: Our aim was to determine the distribution and nature of cranial MRI findings in preeclampsia/eclampsia, and also to correlate them with clinical and laboratory data.
Materials and methods: MR imaging was performed in 39 patients with preeclampsia (n=30) and eclampsia (n=9), and the distribution and signal patterns of the lesions were documented. Clinical findings, blood pressures, and laboratory data were compared statistically in patients with and without MR imaging findings.
Results: MR imaging was normal in 21 of the patients. In 18 patients, cortical-subcortical lesions, which appeared iso-/hypointense on T1W and hyperintense on T2W images, were detected. The occipital lobe was involved in all patients, followed by the parietal, frontal, and temporal lobes, and basal ganglia and pons. The lesions showed watershed distribution in 13 patients. When the patients with and without MR imaging findings were compared, there was a statistically significant difference regarding visual disturbances, depression of consciousness, and seizures (p=0.042, p=0.006, p=0.000, respectively). Although patients with MR imaging findings showed higher blood pressures as compared to those without MR imaging findings, there was no statistically significant difference (p=0.074). In patients with MR imaging findings, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), uric acid, and creatinine levels were significantly higher than those without MR imaging findings (p=0.006, p=0.010, p=0.005, respectively).
Conclusion: Increased permeability of the blood-brain-barrier related to endothelial injury plays a major role in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia/eclampsia. Relatively minor increases in blood pressure may cause cerebral lesions. However, when the cerebral autoregulation mechanism is considered, the distribution of cerebral lesions in the posterior circulation and watershed zones, which are relatively sparsely innervated by sympathetic nerves, provides evidence that the main determinant of pathogenesis is acute fluctuations in blood pressure.