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Cocaine-induced toxic leucoencephalopathy with complete clinical recovery
  1. Ylenia Abdilla,
  2. Marija Cauchi and
  3. Norbert Vella
  1. Neuroscience, Mater Dei Hospital, Msida, Malta
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ylenia Abdilla, ylly.17{at}


A 45-year-old man, a regular cocaine user, presented with confusion and unusual behaviour to the emergency room. On examination he was unable to perform simple tasks or follow commands. He was treated for possible central nervous system infection. MRI of the brain showed multiple bilateral T2 hyperintense periventricular and deep white matter foci, best appreciated on FLAIR with contrast enhancement. He continued deteriorating, eventually becoming catatonic with extensor posturing and increased tone, requiring intensive therapy unit management. Repeat MRIs were also noted to show worsening changes. He was treated for a presumed inflammatory leucoencephalopathy with intravenous methylprednisolone, immunoglobulins, as well as plasmapheresis. After 2 weeks, the patient started to show clinical improvement with eventual transfer to a rehabilitation hospital. A year after his first presentation, the patient scored 30 out of 30 on the MMSE and his neurological examination was normal.

  • neurology (drugs and medicines)
  • neurology
  • neuroimaging
  • drugs misuse (including addiction)

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  • Contributors YA: data acquisition, manuscript concept and drafting. MC: manuscript concept, content contributions and editing. NV: manuscript revisions.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.