Retinal Hemorrhage, A Common Sign of Prognostic Significance in Cerebral Malaria

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  • Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Tropical Medicine Unit, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Department of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology, Ramathibodi Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

Retinal hemorrhages were seen in 21 patients among a group of 144 with strictly-defined cerebral malaria. Hemorrhages were multiple in 17 cases and bilateral in 14. There was subhyaloid extension in two. Soft exudates were seen in two, the retinae were considered edematous in four and in one there was bilateral papilledema. Retinal hemorrhages were significantly associated with several indices of severity of Plasmodium falciparum infection: high parasitemia with schizontemia, anemia, elevated serum creatinine and reduced plasma antithrombin III. Only two patients with hemorrhages were both severely anemic and thrombocytopenic. It is suggested that retinal hemorrhages, a frequent finding in cerebral malaria, may be visible evidence of vascular lesions involved in the pathogenesis of this condition.

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