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Tumefactive perivascular spaces mimicking cerebral edema in a patient with diabetic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome: a case report

Seby John1, Susan Samuel1 and Shaheen E Lakhan12*

Author Affiliations

1 Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, S100A, 44195, Cleveland, OH, USA

2 Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, 9776 Peavine Drive, 90210, Beverly Hills, CA, USA

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2013, 7:51  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-7-51

Published: 21 February 2013



Acute cerebral edema is a significant cause of death in patients treated for diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome.

Case presentation

We present the case of a 44-year-old African American woman admitted with acute severe headache and diagnosed with diabetic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome. Computed tomography of the head showed diffuse leukoencephalopathy, but sparing of the cortex. We were concerned for acute cerebral edema secondary to hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain showed numerous collections of cystic spaces in the white matter of both hemispheres representing tumefactive perivascular spaces. Her headache improved with correction of the hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state.


Although the clinical presentation and head computed tomography were concerning for cerebral edema, the distinctive features on brain magnetic resonance imaging helped to clarify the diagnosis and differentiate it from other processes.

Tumefactive perivascular spaces; Cerebral edema; Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome