Case Reports in Neurological Medicine (2016-01-01)

Diffusion Tensor Imaging Tractography in Pure Neuritic Leprosy: First Experience Report and Review of the Literature

  • Michele R. Colonna,
  • Giuseppe Tallarida,
  • Francesco Stagno d’Alcontres,
  • Salvatore Noto,
  • Aurora Parodi,
  • Alberto Tagliafico

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2016


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Five years after both right ulnar and median nerve decompression for paraesthesias and palsy, a patient, coming from Nigeria but living in Italy, came to our unit claiming to have persistent pain and combined median and ulnar palsy. Under suspicion of leprosy, skin and left sural nerve biopsy were performed. Skin tests were negative, but Schwann cells resulted as positive for acid-fast bacilli (AFB), leading to the diagnosis of Pure Neuritic Leprosy (PNL). The patient was given PB multidrug therapy and recovered from pain in two months. After nine months both High Resolution Ultrasonography (HRUS) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) were performed, revealing thickening of the nerves. Since demyelination is common in PNL, the Authors started to use Diffusion Tensor Imaging Tractography (DTIT) to get better morphological and functional data about myelination than does the traditional imaging. DTIT proved successful in showing myelin discontinuity, reorganization, and myelination, and the Authors suggest that it can give more information about the evolution of the disease, as well as further indications for surgery (nerve decompression, nerve transfers, and babysitting for distal effector protection), and should be added to traditional imaging tools in leprosy.