Magnetic resonance imaging findings in substance abuse: alcohol and alcoholism and syndromes associated with alcohol abuse

Top Magn Reson Imaging. 2005 Jun;16(3):223-30. doi: 10.1097/01.rmr.0000192175.26243.a7.


Alcohol abuse is common among the population and results in significant diseases that shorten life span. Ethanol may result in chronic brain changes such as atrophy but may also result in neurologic disease that may be acute or chronic and sometimes life threatening. Accompanying vitamin deficiencies may lead to Wernicke's encephalopathy and changes in serum osmosis may lead to several acute demyelinating disorders. In addition, pregnant women who consume alcohol place their babies at high risk for the fetal alcohol syndrome. In this article we review these disorders and emphasize their imaging features.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders, Nervous System / diagnosis*
  • Atrophy
  • Avitaminosis / diagnosis*
  • Avitaminosis / etiology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Ethanol / toxicity
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Methanol / toxicity
  • Pregnancy


  • Ethanol
  • Methanol