Encephalopathy causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Aditya Govindavarjhulla, M.B.B.S. [2]


Encephalopathy alters brain function and/or structure. It may be caused by an infectious agent (bacteria, virus, orprion), metabolic or mitochondrial dysfunction, brain tumor or increased intracranial pressure, prolonged exposure to toxins (including solvents, drugs, alcohol, paints, industrial chemicals, and certain metals), radiation, chronic progressive trauma, poor nutrition, or lack of oxygen or blood flow to the brain. It is also known that concomitant use of lithium with other neuroleptics may, in rare cases, cause encephalopathy.


Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Hemorrhagic shock, Malignant hypertension, Progressive encephalopathy with edema, hypsarrhythmia and optic atrophy
Chemical / poisoning Alcohol withdrawal, Aluminum , Carbon monoxide poisoning, Ifosamide, Lead poisoning, Methylene Chloride , Narcotics, Occupational lead exposure , Toxic mushrooms
Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect Aldesleukin, Aminosalicylic acid, Blinatumomab, Bortezomib, Cefepime, Ceftazidime, Ciclosporin, Cidofovir, Cisplatin, Cysteamine , Cytarabine, Cytarabine liposome, Epoetin beta , Esomeprazole, Gallium nitrate, Gentamicin, Imipenem-Cilastatin, Levofloxacin , Melarsoprol, Metronidazole, Muromonab-CD3, Nitisinone, Ramucirumab, Topiramate, Valacyclovir, Valproate, Zanamivir, Zonisamide
Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine Hashimoto's encephalopathy
Environmental Hypoxia, Near drowning
Gastroenterologic Acute liver failure , Budd-Chiari syndrome , Chronic liver disease , Cirrhosis of liver , Idiopathic liver cirrhosis , Liver failure, Obliterative portal venopathy , Reye syndrome , Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome , Hepatoma
Genetic Chromosome 18 Ring, Pyridoxamine 5-prime-phosphate oxidase deficiency , Chromosome 9, trisomy 9q, Chromosome 9q duplication syndrome, Bonnemann-Meinecke-Reich syndrome , Landau–Kleffner syndrome , Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, Ohtahara syndrome , West syndrome, Carnitine deficiency syndromes , Carnitine palmitoyl transferase deficiency , Carnitine transporter deficiency , Cytochrome c oxidase deficiency , MELAS , NADH CoQ reductase deficiency
Hematologic Mosse syndrome
Iatrogenic Peritoneal dialysis, Transjugular intrahepatic porto systemic shunt
Infectious Disease Adenoviridae Infections , Boutonneuse fever , Bovine spongiform encephalopathy , Brain abscess, HIV, India tick typhus , Israeli spotted fever , Kuru, Lyme disease , Marseilles fever , Mediterranean Spotted Fever , Psittacosis , Whooping Cough , Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome
Musculoskeletal / Ortho Neuromuscular disorder
Neurologic Bing-Neel syndrome , Bonnemann-Meinecke-Reich syndrome , Early myoclonic encephalopathy, Granulomatous angiitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Landau–Kleffner syndrome , Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, Motor neuron disease, Myasthenia gravis, Neuromuscular disorder, Ohtahara syndrome , Progressive encephalopathy with edema, hypsarrhythmia and optic atrophy, Post-ictal state, Raised intracranial pressure, Scrapie, Stroke, West syndrome, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy , Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome
Nutritional / Metabolic Acidosis, Alcoholism, Carnitine deficiency syndromes , Carnitine palmitoyl transferase deficiency , Carnitine transporter deficiency , Coenzyme Q 10 deficiency , Complex 1 mitochondrial respiratory chain deficiency , Cytochrome c oxidase deficiency , Electrolyte abnormalities, HMG CoA synthetase deficiency , Hyperammonemia, Hypoglycemia, Inborn urea cycle disorder , Malnutrition, MELAS , NADH CoQ reductase deficiency , Obesity, Ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) Deficiency , Thiamine deficiency, Uremia, Uremic encephalopathy, Vitamin B deficiency, Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome , Wernicke's encephalopathy, Pyridoxamine 5-prime-phosphate oxidase deficiency
Obstetric/Gynecologic Acute fatty liver of pregnancy
Oncologic Brain tumour, Hepatoma
Opthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose / Toxicity Acetaminophen toxicity
Psychiatric No underlying causes
Pulmonary Asthma, Atelectasis, Bronchiectasis, Central alveolar hypoventilation, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Ephysema, Obesity hypoventilation syndrome, Pneumonia, Pneumothorax, Primary alveolar hypoventilation, Sleep apnea
Renal / Electrolyte Hyponatremia, Renal failure
Rheum / Immune / Allergy Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome , Idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome , Vasculitis, Hashimoto's encephalopathy
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma Concussion
Urologic No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Miscellaneous No underlying causes

Causes in Alphabetical Order


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  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Aliaga L, Sánchez-Blázquez P, Rodríguez-Granger J, Sampedro A, Orozco M, Pastor J (2009). "Mediterranean spotted fever with encephalitis". J. Med. Microbiol. 58 (Pt 4): 521–5. doi:10.1099/jmm.0.004465-0. PMID 19273650. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
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  30. Pepin J, Milord F, Guern C, Mpia B, Ethier L, Mansinsa D (1989). "Trial of prednisolone for prevention of melarsoprol-induced encephalopathy in gambiense sleeping sickness". Lancet. 1 (8649): 1246–50. PMID 2566790. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  31. Sproule DM, Kaufmann P (2008). "Mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and strokelike episodes: basic concepts, clinical phenotype, and therapeutic management of MELAS syndrome". Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1142: 133–58. doi:10.1196/annals.1444.011. PMID 18990125. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  32. Chang YL, Yang CC, Deng JF; et al. (1999). "Diverse manifestations of oral methylene chloride poisoning: report of 6 cases". J. Toxicol. Clin. Toxicol. 37 (4): 497–504. PMID 10465248.
  33. Seok JI, Yi H, Song YM, Lee WY (2003). "Metronidazole-induced encephalopathy and inferior olivary hypertrophy: lesion analysis with diffusion-weighted imaging and apparent diffusion coefficient maps". Arch. Neurol. 60 (12): 1796–800. doi:10.1001/archneur.60.12.1796. PMID 14676060. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  34. Chiba S (1977). "[Mosse's syndrome (polycythemia rubra vera)]". Nippon Rinsho (in Japanese). 35 Suppl 1: 952–3. PMID 613068.
  35. Bogousslavsky J, Regli F, Doret AM; et al. (1983). "Encephalopathy, peripheral neuropathy, dysautonomia, myasthenia gravis, malignant thymoma, and antiacetylcholine receptor antibodies in the CSF". Eur. Neurol. 22 (5): 301–6. PMID 6628458.
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  37. Janati A, Erba G (1982). "Electroencephalographic correlates of near-drowning encephalopathy in children". Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 53 (2): 182–91. PMID 6174290. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
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  39. D'Arrigo S, Grazia BM, Faravelli F, Riva D, Pantaleoni C (2005). "Progressive encephalopathy with edema, hypsarrhythmia, and optic nerve atrophy (PEHO)-like syndrome: what diagnostic characteristics are defining?". J. Child Neurol. 20 (5): 454–6. PMID 15968934. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
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  43. 43.0 43.1 Latour P, Biraben A, Polard E; et al. (2004). "Drug induced encephalopathy in six epileptic patients: topiramate? valproate? or both?". Hum Psychopharmacol. 19 (3): 193–203. doi:10.1002/hup.575. PMID 15079854. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  44. Nishizawa M (2005). "[Acute encephalopathy after ingestion of "sugihiratake" mushroom]". Rinsho Shinkeigaku (in Japanese). 45 (11): 818–20. PMID 16447734. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
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