EEG patterns and imaging correlations in encephalopathy: encephalopathy part II

J Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Jun;28(3):233-51. doi: 10.1097/WNP.0b013e31821c33a0.


The EEG patterns seen with encephalopathies can be correlated to cerebral imaging findings including head computerized tomography and MRI. Background slowing without slow-wave intrusion is seen with acute and chronic cortical impairments that spare subcortical white matter. Subcortical/white matter structural abnormalities or hydrocephalus may produce projected slow-wave activity, while clinical entities involving both cortical and subcortical regions (diffuse cerebral abnormalities) engender both background slowing and slow-wave activity. Triphasic waves are seen with hepatic and renal insufficiency or medication toxicities (e.g., lithium, baclofen) in the absence of a significant cerebral imaging abnormality, Conversely, subcortical/white matter abnormalities may facilitate the appearance of triphasic waves without significant hepatic, renal, or toxic comorbidities. More specific syndromes, such as Jakob-Creutzfeldt disease, autoimmune limbic encephalitis, autoimmune corticosteroid-responsive encephalopathy with thyroid autoimmunity, sepsis-associated encephalopathy, and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, have imaging/EEG changes that are variable but which may include slowing and epileptiform activity. This overview highlighting EEG-imaging correlations may help the treating physician in the diagnosis, and hence the appropriate treatment, of patients with encephalopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Statistics as Topic