Substantia nigra MR imaging signal changes and cardiomyopathy following prenatal exposure to cocaine and heroin

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2008 Apr;29(4):828-9. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A0966. Epub 2008 Jan 17.


Exposure to cocaine in utero results in behavioral and neurodevelopmental abnormalities that persist into adulthood. Conventional MR imaging has generally failed to reveal the expected structural lesions to explain these clinical findings. We report a case of focal MR imaging signal-intensity changes in the substantia nigra, locus ceruleus, and other selected nerve tracts and nuclei in a child exposed prenatally to cocaine and other drugs. The patient also had dilated cardiomyopathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated / chemically induced
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated / diagnosis*
  • Child Development / drug effects
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Failure to Thrive / chemically induced
  • Failure to Thrive / etiology
  • Female
  • Heroin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Narcotics / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology*


  • Narcotics
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine