SMART syndrome: retrospective review of a rare delayed complication of radiation

Eur J Neurol. 2021 Apr;28(4):1316-1323. doi: 10.1111/ene.14632. Epub 2020 Dec 3.


Background: SMART (stroke-like migraine attacks after radiation therapy) is a rare, delayed complication of brain radiation. In this study, we wanted to review the spectrum of symptoms, neuroradiological findings, autoimmune status, and outcomes in SMART syndrome patients.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all consecutive adult patients (≥18 years) diagnosed with SMART syndrome at Mayo Clinic, Rochester between January 1995 and December 2018.

Results: We identified 25 unique patients with SMART syndrome and a total of 31 episodes and 15 (60%) patients were male. The median age at onset was 46 (interquartile range [IQR] 43-55) years and the median latency of onset after the initial radiation was 21.6 (IQR 14.4-28.2) years. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed gyral edema and enhancement in all cases with the temporal (25, 80.6%) and parietal (23, 74.2%) lobes being the most commonly affected. The median follow-up of the patients in our cohort was 10 (IQR 6-32) weeks. On univariate analysis, factors associated with an increased risk of recurrent SMART episodes were female gender (odds ratio [OR] 8.1, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.1-52.6, p = 0.019) and absence of electrographic seizure discharges during initial symptoms (OR 7.4, 95% CI 1.1-45.9, p = 0.032). We could not identify an autoimmune etiology. Longer duration of symptoms (>10 weeks) correlated with an older age (p = 0.049), temporal lobe involvement (p < 0.001), and diffusion restriction (p = 0.043).

Conclusions: SMART is a syndrome with characteristic imaging findings and clinical features. Incomplete recovery by 10 weeks occurred in one-third of individuals and was associated with older age, temporal lobe involvement, and restricted diffusion on MRI.

Keywords: SMART syndrome; imaging; migraine; prognosis; recurrence; seizure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke*
  • Syndrome