A fatal case of COVID-19-associated acute necrotizing encephalopathy

Dace Ziemele (Coresponding Author), Gundega Ķauķe, Krista Skrējāne, Līga Jaunozoliņa, Guntis Karelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: An increasing number of published reports on SARS-CoV-2 neurological manifestations have revealed a wide spectrum of symptoms, diagnostic features, and outcomes. We report a fatal case of a COVID-19-associated acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE). Case report: We report a 70-year-old man brought to the hospital after a generalized tonic-clonic seizure. He was confused and disoriented. Nasopharyngeal swab testing for SARS-CoV-2 was positive. A head computed tomography (CT) scan and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis showed no signs of acute pathology. After recurrent seizures, he was sedated and intubated. Throughout the days that followed he remained in a therapeutic coma. After discontinuation of sedatives, he remained unconscious. A repeated head CT scan showed signs of pontine edema, and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed inhomogeneous hyperintensities with microhemorrhages and small autonecrotic cavities in both thalami, brain stem, and cerebellar peduncles. With a high suspicion of a COVID-19-associated ANE, the patient was started on high-dose glucocorticoids; however, he died the next day. The CSF tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. Discussion: A variety of COVID-19 neurological manifestations have been reported to date, including various forms of encephalitis and encephalopathy. In our patient, encephalopathy with seizures was the presenting symptom of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The radiological findings on days 8 and 9 were consistent with an ANE. The precise pathogenesis of ANE remains unclear; however, an immune-mediated mechanism is suspected. Early diagnostics with prompt administration of immunomodulators may be lifesaving. Suspicion of a COVID-19-related encephalopathy/encephalitis should be raised in all patients with altered mental status, seizures, and/or coma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3870-3872
Number of pages3
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • necrotizing encephalopathy
  • neurological manifestations
  • SARS-CoV-2

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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