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Images in Neurology
November 2004

Multiple Central Nervous System Lesions Associated With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arch Neurol. 2004;61(11):1794-1795. doi:10.1001/archneur.61.11.1794

A 51-year-old woman suffering from 20 years of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) had noticed difficulties in walking 2 months earlier. Neurological examinations of the patient disclosed hyperactive deep-tendon reflexes, abnormal bilateral reflexes, and motor weakness of her left upper and lower extremities. Blood analysis demonstrated a highly elevated rheumatoid factor (241 IU/mL), and anticardiolipin antibody was not found. Examination of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) demonstrated pleocytosis (205cells/mm3), and the CSF proteinlevel was markedly elevated to 316 mg/dL. The patient’s cranial T2-weighted (Figure 1A) and flair magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (Figure 1B) investigations revealed high-signal lesions. These abnormalities were revealed as slight T1 hypointensity signals similar to those of the gray matter without any gadolinium-diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid enhancement. Magnetic resonance angiography did not demonstrate any vascular changes. Cervical MRI showed high-signal lesions in the T2-weighted images (Figure 1C). Based on these findings, we diagnosed the patient as suffering from encephalomyelopathy associated with RA. After the steroid treatment, the CSF abnormalities have resolved and most of the abnormal signal intensities on MRI have disappeared (Figure 2). The patient’s clinical manifestations also showed marked improvement.

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