Vascular involvement of the central nervous system and systemic diseases: Etiologies and MRI findings

Simone Appenzeller, Andréia Vasconcellos Faria, Verônica A. Zanardi, Sandra R. Fernandes, Lilian Tereza Lavras Costallat, Fernando Cendes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to review magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in patients with vascular involvement of the central nervous system (CNS) associated with systemic diseases. We reviewed the MRI findings in clinically suspected cases of vascular involvement of the CNS associated with systemic diseases. Vascular CNS involvement was considered in the presence of characteristic clinical, MRI and/or MR angiography findings. In order to be included in the study, patients needed to have a complete clinical and laboratory investigation and a follow-up of a minimum of 6 months. Twenty-four patients (17 women and 7 men), with mean age of 29.5 years had diagnosis of CNS vasculitis and were included. The clinical presentation was variable, but the most common complaints were headache in 18, focal deficits in 9, disturbances of consciousness in 9, and seizures in 8 patients. Underlying causes for CNS vasculitis were identified in all patients and included systemic lupus erythematosus in eight, tuberculosis in three, bacterial meningitis in three, Takayasu arteritis in two, polyarteritis nodosa in two, syphilis in two, drug abuse in two, yellow fever in one and varicella in one patient. Nonspecific high intensity T2WI/FLAIR lesions in white matter were the most common finding, present in ten patients. Eight patients had infarctions in large cerebral arteries territory, associated or not with high intensity T2WI/FLAIR small foci. Vascular involvement of the CNS can be found in a great variety of systemic diseases, including rheumatologic, infectious and drug abuse. Clinical findings are unspecific and MRI/MRA may help to establish the correct diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1229-1237
Number of pages9
JournalRheumatology International
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Central nervous system
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Vaculitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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