MRI in chronic toluene abuse: low signal in the cerebral cortex on T2-weighted images

Neuroradiology. 1998 Aug;40(8):519-21. doi: 10.1007/s002340050637.


MRI may be helpful in showing brain toxicity associated with chronic toluene inhalation. We report clinical and MRI findings over 3 years in a man with gradual neurologic decline secondary to toluene abuse. Cerebral atrophy most prominently involved the corpus callosum and cerebellar vermis. On T2-weighted images, loss of gray-white matter contrast, diffuse supratentorial white matter high-signal lesions, and low signal in the basal ganglia and midbrain were seen. In addition, MRI showed abnormal labor cortical low signal on T2-weighted images, most prominent in the primary motor and visual cortex. This cortical T2 shortening, not previously described in this condition, may reflect iron deposition.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Solvents / adverse effects*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Toluene / adverse effects*


  • Solvents
  • Toluene
  • Iron