Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome: is there a difference between pregnant and non-pregnant patients?

Eur Neurol. 2009;62(3):142-8. doi: 10.1159/000226430. Epub 2009 Jul 1.


Background: Clinical and imaging abnormalities similar to those seen in posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) have been observed in patients with eclampsia. It remains unclear whether both conditions are in fact the same disease entity.

Methods: We retrospectively identified 21 patients with PRES and separated them into 2 groups: patients who were symptomatic during pregnancy, and a group of non-pregnant patients. We recorded symptoms, premedical history and paraclinical investigations of both groups and compared them to each other.

Results: We found 8 pregnant patients and 13 non-pregnant patients with PRES. There was no difference between both groups with regard to symptoms, cerebral imaging, or outcome, apart from a difference in age, the premedical history and a significantly higher occurrence of headache in the pregnant group. All of our pregnant women were primigravid. Follow-up was done over a mean period of 2,171 (range 59-9,396) days. Overall, there was a good clinical outcome.

Conclusion: We suggest that PRES in non-pregnant patients and eclampsia presenting with MRI abnormalities similar to those seen in PRES represent the same disease entity, but are triggered by different pathologies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Brain Diseases / pathology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pre-Eclampsia / pathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syndrome
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Young Adult