Reversible delayed leukoencephalopathy following intravenous heroin overdose

Michael H. Barnett, Laurie A. Miller, Stephen W. Reddel, Leo Davies*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


We present serial neuropsychological, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and EEG changes in a case of widespread CNS myelinopathy due to intravenous heroin overdose complicated by a period of prolonged unconsciousness. Following recovery from the acute overdose, the subject had the delayed onset of akinetic mutism with urinary incontinence. Sequential formal neuropsychological assessments over 9 months showed evolution from severe global cerebral dysfunction to moderate disturbance of frontal lobe function. Almost complete resolution of diffuse white matter signal changes, accompanied by the development of a degree of volume loss, was evident on serial MR imaging over the same period, and generalized arrhythmic delta-range slowing on the EEG evolved into a near normal pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-167
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Heroin
  • Hypoxia
  • Leukoencephalopathy


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