Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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Abstract

Background/Objective

Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) is an underrecognized and reversible condition in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that could mimic neuropsychiatric lupus. Identification of any distinct clinical patterns is important as one would need to escalate rather than decrease or discontinue immune suppression in neuropsychiatric lupus.

Methods

We retrospectively identified and described 5 patients with SLE who were hospitalized and diagnosed with PRES from 2008 to 2013 in a tertiary medical center and reviewed relevant literature.

Results

Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome in SLE occurred in young women with age distribution from 19 to 37 years. At the time of presentation, all had hypertension (systolic blood pressures ranging from 150 to 220), moderate to severe disease activity (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index scores ranging from 11 to 41), and prototypical magnetic resonance imaging findings of PRES and nephritis (4 of 5 patients had biopsy-proven lupus nephritis). Seizures, headache, and confusion were the most common clinical symptoms. One patient had intracerebral hematoma, and 2 patients had cerebral petechial hemorrhages. All patients improved without any neurological deficits, with a mean hospital stay of 11.2 days.

Conclusions

Systemic lupus erythematosus should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients who present with PRES. One should have a low threshold for magnetic resonance imaging especially when neurological symptoms occur in young women with or without an established diagnosis of SLE and especially among those with active SLE, lupus nephritis, renal failure, and/or poorly controlled hypertension. Given the good prognosis of PRES in SLE patients with early supportive treatment, prompt recognition is crucial to institute appropriate management.

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