Reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome accompanying eclampsia: correct diagnosis using preoperative MRI

Tohoku J Exp Med. 2012 Jan;226(1):55-8. doi: 10.1620/tjem.226.55.


Reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS) is characterized by clinical symptoms such as seizures, visual disturbance, and altered mental status. It also presents abnormal findings on computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) indicating cerebral edema in the white matter of the occipital, temporal, and parietal lobes. Both the clinical symptoms and abnormal imaging findings can be reversed by controlling blood pressure or treating the underlying condition including infection. This report describes a patient with RPLS that occurred secondary to eclampsia. A 26-year-old female, gravida 0 para 0, developed weakness and pain in her upper and lower extremities and gait disturbance during the 34th week of pregnancy, and severe pregnancy-induced hypertension near the end of the 37th week. On the first day of the 38th week, she developed constricted visual fields and complained of visual illusions. MRI revealed a high-signal-intensity area in the right occipital lobe. Immediately after MRI, the patient had a 10-sec tonic convulsion. Diagnosed with eclampsia, she underwent emergency cesarean section. MRI on the 2nd postoperative day showed that the high-signal-intensity area was slightly improved. Her visual illusions were diminished by the 4th postoperative day, and almost all subjective symptoms disappeared by the 7th postoperative day. The patient was discharged at 12th postoperative day. We recommend MRI not only for symptomatic patients with suspected RPLS, but also for asymptomatic patients with severe pregnancy-induced hypertension. If findings such as cerebral edema are observed on MRI, immediate delivery should be considered before eclamptic seizures or exacerbation of neurological symptoms.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section
  • Eclampsia / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Occipital Lobe / physiopathology
  • Posterior Leukoencephalopathy Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Posterior Leukoencephalopathy Syndrome / etiology
  • Posterior Leukoencephalopathy Syndrome / pathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Treatment Outcome