Central nervous system infection: Radiological patterns

Author(s): Dr Luke Dixon, Dr Farah Alobeidi

Hospital: Charing Cross Hospital

Reference: RAD Magazine, 42, 494, 13-15


Infections of the central nervous system (CNS) can be highly debilitating and life threatening. A favourable prognosis relies on rapid recognition and early targeted treatment. Imaging plays a pivotal role in diagnosis and in assessing treatment response. Unfortunately, the overlap of disease patterns and radiological entities, together with the evolution of CNS infections, for example the emergence of multi-drug resistance and HIV, often makes diagnosis difficult or delayed. We aim to provide a pragmatic approach to adult CNS brain infections by reviewing common imaging patterns. Salient clinical and radiological features will be highlighted to differentiate from non-infectious disease mimics. Finally, we shall recognise the particular difficulties of diagnosing and monitoring CNS infection in the immuno-compromised patient.

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