Impaired Microcirculation and Tissue Oxygenation in Human Cerebral Malaria: A Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study

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  • Department of Neurology and Department of Nuclear Medicine, Intensive Care Unit, University Hospital Innsbruck, Austria, Anichstrasse 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria

Serial single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and transcranial doppler (TCD) sonography examinations were performed to investigate changes of cerebral perfusion and tissue oxygenation in a patient with complicated cerebral malaria that have been acquired in Nigeria. On admission to the Neurologic Intensive Care Unit in Innsbruck, Austria, SPECT and NIRS revealed focal right hemispheric hypoperfusion and decreased oxygen saturation, respectively, correlating exactly to the patient's right hemispheric localizing signs. In contrast, TCD examinations of the basal cerebral vessels revealed normal flow patterns. The patient showed an initial Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia rate of 30% and was cured by intravenous quinine and oral mefloquine therapy. He was discharged without neurologic symptoms. Follow-up SPECT and NIRS examinations revealed regular cerebral perfusion and oxygenation patterns in both cortical hemispheres. In summary, the presented findings provide first evidence that noninvasive SPECT and NIRS may be important diagnostic tools in the evaluation of impaired cerebral microcirculation in patients with P. falciparum malaria.

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