Conventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Features in Patients With Tropical Spastic Paraparesis

J Neurovirol. 2005 Dec;11(6):525-34. doi: 10.1080/13550280500385039.


Conventional brain and spinal cord magnetic resonance images were performed in 21 patients with human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV)-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis, to assess the role of conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the disease diagnosis. These patients had no other central nervous system conditions or related risk factors at the time of tropical spastic paraparesis diagnosis. Eleven (52.4%) patients showed nonspecific brain abnormalities on T2-weighted images. The majority (77.2%) of brain abnormalities were located in the deep white matter. A transient contrast-enhancing lesion was identified in the brain of only one patient. In the brain of another patient, 9.0% of the T2-hyperintense lesion load was hypointense on the correspondent T1-weighted images. No differences in terms of demographic, biological, or clinical variables were present between patients with abnormal brain images and those with normal brain magnetic resonance images. Spinal cord T2-weighted images were abnormal in three (14.3%) patients. In one of these three patients, a diffuse but transient edema was found along the entire tract of the spinal cord. White matter lesions were present in the central nervous system of 60% of the cases in this study. However, no correlations between magnetic resonance imaging and clinical findings, and no specificity of lesions were observed. Hence, conventional magnetic resonance imaging is a sensitive but not highly specific tool for diagnosis of tropical spastic paraparesis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HTLV-I Infections / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology