Microhemorrhages in nonfatal high-altitude cerebral edema

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2008 Sep;28(9):1635-42. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2008.55. Epub 2008 Jun 4.


Vasogenic edema in the corpus callosum is a characteristic finding in high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE). Furthermore, microhemorrhages have been found at autopsies in brains of HACE victims. The objective of this study was to determine if microhemorrhages also occur in nonlethal HACE. Consequently, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed in patients who had suffered from HACE and in patients who had suffered from severe acute mountain sickness (AMS) by applying imaging techniques highly susceptible to blood or blood remnants. Two experienced neuroradiologists independently evaluated the exams blinded to clinical data. The MRI was performed 2 to 31 months after the event. The MRI of the HACE patients revealed multiple hemosiderin depositions in the brain--predominantly found in the corpus callosum--indicative of microhemorrhages. These changes were not present in the three AMS patients. In summary, hemosiderin deposits detectable by MRI predominantly in the corpus callosum indicate that microhemorrhages occur in nonlethal HACE, which may serve as a novel diagnostic MRI sign for HACE even many months after the event.

MeSH terms

  • Altitude Sickness
  • Altitude*
  • Brain Edema / diagnosis*
  • Brain Edema / etiology
  • Brain Edema / pathology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Corpus Callosum
  • Hemosiderin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Time Factors


  • Hemosiderin