Author(s): Krishnan A, Karnad DR, Limaye U, Siddharth W
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Abstract Common causes of coma in falciparum malaria are cerebral malaria, hypoglycaemia and electrolyte disturbances. Focal deficits due to arterial infarcts may sometimes occur in children, but are rare in adults. Three adults with falciparum malaria who had fever, altered consciousness and focal neurological deficits (one of whom also had seizures) are being reported here. CT scan of the brain revealed haemorrhagic infarction of the cerebral cortex and subcortical white matter with surrounding oedema suggestive of venous infarction in all three patients. The diagnosis of cerebral venous thrombosis was missed in the first patient, and was detected only at autopsy. In the next two patients, superior sagittal sinus thrombosis was confirmed angiographically. Only one patient survived; the other two died of increased intracranial pressure. Two of the three patients also had Plasmodium vivax co-infection. A hypercoagulable state resulting from severe malaria may be responsible for this rare and potentially fatal complication. Cerebral malaria may be associated with raised intracranial pressure due to cerebral oedema. Cerebral venous thrombosis may worsen this and adversely affect outcome. This diagnosis should be suspected in patients with severe malaria who develop focal neurological deficits and confirmed by appropriate imaging; judicious use of local thrombolytic therapy may help improve outcome.
This article was published in J Infect
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals