Cerebellar involvement in metabolic disorders: a pattern-recognition approach

Neuroradiology. 1998 Jun;40(6):347-54. doi: 10.1007/s002340050597.


Inborn errors of metabolism can affect the cerebellum during development, maturation and later during life. We have established criteria for pattern recognition of cerebellar abnormalities in metabolic disorders. The abnormalities can be divided into four major groups: cerebellar hypoplasia (CH), hyperplasia, cerebellar atrophy (CA), cerebellar white matter abnormalities (WMA) or swelling, and involvement of the dentate nuclei (DN) or cerebellar cortex. CH can be an isolated typical finding, as in adenylsuccinase deficiency, but is also occasionally seen in many other disorders. Differentiation from CH and CA is often difficult, as in carbohydrate deficient glycoprotein syndrome or 2-L-hydroxyglutaric acidaemia. In cases of atrophy the relationship of cerebellar to cerebral atrophy is important. WMA may be diffuse or patchy, frequently predominantly around the DN. Severe swelling of white matter is present during metabolic crisis in maple syrup urine disease. The DN can be affected by metabolite deposition, necrosis, calcification or demyelination. Involvement of cerebellar cortex is seen in infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy. Changes in DN and cerebellar cortex are rather typical and therefore most helpful; additional features should be sought as they are useful in narrowing down the differential diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Atrophy
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / genetics
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / pathology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cerebellar Diseases / genetics
  • Cerebellar Diseases / pathology
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*