Spongiform Leukoencephalopathy after Intravenous Heroin Use: Evaluation by Diffusion-weighted Imaging

JCW Siu, EYK Tsui

Hong Kong J Radiol 2004;7:84-7

Spongiform leukoencephalopathy is a distinct pathological entity usually following inhalation of heroin, while spongiform leukoencephalopathy resulting from intravenous injection of heroin is very rare. The magnetic resonance imaging findings are non-specific with widespread symmetrical high-signal lesions in white matter. This report is of an intravenous heroin addict who presented with clinical features of encephalopathy with restricted diffusion on diffusion-weighted imaging. Diffusion weighted imaging distinguished this drug-induced encephalopathy from other types of leukoencephalopathy. This is the third case report of spongiform leukocenpahalopathy showing restricted diffusion on diffusion-weighted imaging in the English literature.