Intracranial calcification in adults with chronic lead exposure

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1986 Feb;146(2):267-70. doi: 10.2214/ajr.146.2.267.


Computed tomographic (CT) findings of cerebral and cerebellar calcification are described in three American adults with raised serum lead levels and known exposure to lead for 30 or more years. Calcification patterns were punctiform, curvilinear, speck-like, and diffuse and were found in the subcortical area, basal ganglia, vermis, and cerebellum. Admission serum lead levels ranged from 54 to 72 micrograms/dl (normal, 0-30 micrograms/dl). Nonspecific neurologic manifestations consisted of dementia, diminished visual acuity, peripheral neuropathy, syncope, dizziness, nystagmus, easy fatigue, and back pain. Two patients developed chronic renal disease and hypertension; in both cases, serum parathormone was elevated. Blood, calcium, and phosphorus were normal in all three. No other structural abnormalities were observed with CT. Although the pathophysiologic mechanism of these findings remains poorly understood, it is suggested that chronic lead exposure should be included in the differential diagnosis of unexplained intracranial calcifications in adults.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Diseases / etiology*
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Calcinosis / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Lead Poisoning / complications*
  • Lead Poisoning / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed