The computed tomographic (CT) scans of 10 patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome who had central nervous system (CNS) involvement by cytomegalovirus (CMV) were retrospectively reviewed and correlated with clinical data and pathologic findings. Diagnosis was established in all 10 patients by autopsy, which showed the pathognomonic 'owl's eye' intracellular inclusions of CMV. In six patients CMV caused an initial CNS infection that was directly responsible for the patient's progressive encephalopathy and death. In four patients CMV caused a superimposed nondominant CNS infection that had no clinical expression in two. Cortical atrophy and mild hydrocephalus ex vacuo were seen on CT in all 10 patients. Positive findings on CT that could be attributed to infection with CMV were present in only three of the 10 patients, and in these three symptomatic cases autopsy correlation revealed that CT underestimated the degree of CNS involvement. In the other three symptomatic patients, CT showed no parenchymal abnormalities, while autopsy demonstrated diffuse cerebral involvement. In the four patients whose CNS was secondarily involved by CMV, CT showed changes proven at autopsy to be related only to the dominant infection with Toxoplasma gondii and to postoperative hematomas. CT did not demonstrate any abnormalities at the sites of CMV involvement, which were found at autopsy in this latter group. It was concluded that CT is not very sensitive for the detection of CMV encephalitis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging