Prognostic value of MR spectroscopy in patients with acute excitotoxic encephalopathy

J Neurol Sci. 2020 Jan 15;408:116636. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2019.116636. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


Purpose: Acute excitotoxic encephalopathy is the most common encephalopathy syndrome in Japan, and consists of acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) and mild encephalopathy associated with excitotoxicity (MEEX). Neurological sequelae remain in approximately 70% of patients with AESD, however, it is difficult to predict the prognosis early in the course. We evaluated the brain metabolites observed on MRS as to whether they can predict the neurological outcome.

Methods: 16 previously healthy Japanese patients with excitotoxic encephalopathy (8 with AESD and 8 with MEEX) were included in this study. MR spectroscopy (MRS) was acquired from the fronto-parietal white matter (TR/TE = 5000/30 msec) with a 3.0 T scanner. Quantification of metabolites was performed using an LCModel. Neurological outcome was assessed with the Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category score, score 1 being classified as G1 (normal), scores 2 and 3 as G2 (mild to moderate), and scores 4-6 as G3 (severe).

Results: MRS data which predict a poor neurological outcome (G2 and 3) include the following: decreased N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) (sensitivity 88%, specificity 100%), decreased creatine (47%, 100%), increased lactate (47%, 100%), and decreased glutamate (sensitivity 35%, specificity 100%). Limited to the acute stage within seven days of onset, those for a poor prognosis are as follows, decreased NAA (88%, 100%), decreased creatine (38%, 100%), and increased lactate (38%, 100%).

Conclusion: MRS is useful for prognosis prediction of acute excitotoxic encephalopathy. Decreased NAA will be the most effective metabolite for neurological prognosis prediction.

Keywords: Acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD); Excitotoxic encephalopathy; MR spectroscopy; Mild encephalopathy associated with excitotoxicity (MEEX); N-acetyl aspartate; Prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / standards
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / metabolism*