Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging of borderzone necrosis in paediatric tuberculous meningitis

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Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is associated with borderzone necrosis (BZN) of the brain parenchyma in areas adjacent to meningeal inflammation. Diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) allows for accurate detection of cytotoxic oedema associated with necrosis. Detection and characterisation of BZN using DWI to explain its pathogenesis in TBM have not been performed previously in children. Our objective was to identify the prevalence and characteristics of BZN using DWI in children with TBM and to correlate it with the presence, degree and distribution of basal meningeal enhancement (BE) in the absence of large-vessel thrombosis.


A retrospective descriptive MRI DWI study of 34 children with TBM was conducted. The topography of BZN was compared with the presence and severity of BE on specific MRI sequences.


BZN was identified on MRI DWI in 50% of patients of which 82% had involvement of the temporal lobes. The severity and extent of BE in either middle cerebral artery cistern correlated with the presence of BZN (P = 0.02). BZN did not correlate with radiologically detectable vascular occlusion.


BZN is common in TBM occurring in 50% of children. Detection and confirmation of cytotoxic oedema associated with BZN using DWI, and its clear relation to BE supports existing pathogenetic descriptions. The pathogenesis of BZN differs to that of topographical infarction on the basis of distribution as well as an absent statistical relationship between vascular occlusion and BZN.

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