Distinct pattern of microsusceptibility changes on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in critically ill patients on mechanical ventilation/oxygenation

This article was originally published here

Neuroradiology. 2021 Mar 1. doi: 10.1007/s00234-021-02663-5. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Over the years, interesting SWI abnormalities in patients from intensive care units (ICU) were observed, not attributable to a specific cause and with uncertain clinical significance. Recently, multiple SWI-hypointense foci were mentioned related to neurological complications of SARS-COV-2 infection. The purpose of the study was to describe the patterns of susceptibility brain changes in critically-ill patients who underwent mechanical ventilation and/or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

METHODS: An institutional board-approved, retrospective study was conducted on 250 ICU patients in whom brain MRI was performed between January 2011 and May 2020. Out of 48 patients who underwent mechanical ventilation/ECMO, in fifteen patients (median age 47.7 years), the presence of SWI abnormalities was observed and described.

RESULTS: Microsusceptibilities were located in white-gray matter interface, in subcortical white matter (U-fibers), and surrounding subcortical nuclei in 13/14 (92,8%) patients. In 8/14 (57,1%) patients, SWI foci were seen infratentorially. The corpus callosum was affected in ten (71,4%), internal capsule in five (35,7%), and midbrain/pons in six (42,8%) patients.

CONCLUSION: We showed distinct patterns of diffuse brain SWI susceptibilities in critically-ill patients who underwent mechanical ventilation/ECMO. The etiology of these foci remains uncertain, but the association with mechanical ventilation, prolonged respiratory failure, and hypoxemia seems probable explanations.

PMID:33646336 | DOI:10.1007/s00234-021-02663-5