Malignant cerebral edema related to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Lauren Koffman*, Richard Prayson, E. M. Manno

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background The neurological manifestations of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) are varied and incompletely described. A few case series report a benign idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) related to SLE, which is responsive to immunotherapy. There are limited reports of patients with malignant cerebral edema, and diffuse white matter changes in the absence of central nervous system (CNS) vasculitis. Methods Case series from our tertiary care center and review of the relevant literature. Results Case one was a 32 year-old woman admitted with nausea, vomiting and cranial nerve palsies. Serology was significant for a diagnosis of probable SLE. MRI was performed and showed bilateral symmetric diffuse T2/FLAIR hyperintensities throughout the white matter and cerebral angiography was unremarkable. The patient developed recalcitrant cerebral edema with intracranial hypertension despite immunosuppressive therapies and subsequently expired. Post mortem evaluation showed a white matter inflammatory process, but no vascular changes consistent with CNS vasculitis. Case two was a 29 year-old woman with known SLE that presented with a loss of consciousness. Imaging included a CT that showed diffuse cerebral edema with white matter involvement and a normal cerebral angiogram. Again, despite maximal medical management the patient herniated resulting in death by neurologic criteria. Conclusions These two cases represent a syndrome of white matter changes and diffuse cerebral edema associated with SLE that have yet to be reported in the literature. It is unclear if this process has a similar pathology to SLE related IIH. Because this syndrome causes a fulminant cerebral edema, further research is needed to better understand the underlying pathology and identify potential treatment options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-182
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
StatePublished - May 15 2016


  • Cerebral edema
  • Intracranial hypertension
  • Leukoencephalopathy
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Malignant cerebral edema related to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this