White matter MR hyperintensities in adult patients with congenital rubella

Barton Lane, Edith V. Sullivan, Kelvin O. Lim, D. Michael Beal, Robert L. Harvey, Tim Myers, William O. Faustman, Adolf Pfefferbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To observe and quantify white matter hyperintensities on MR images in adults with schizophrenialike symptoms who had had congenital rubella, in order to elucidate the neuropathologic sequelae of this perinatal viral infection and to explore the potential relationship of these lesions to schizophrenia. METHODS: Eleven deaf adult patients with documented prenatal rubella virus infection and schizophrenialike symptoms were compared with 19 age-matched patients with early onset schizophrenia who did not have congenital rubella and with 18 age-matched control subjects. All MR images (obtained at 1.5 T) were evaluated by a neuroradiologist who was blinded to diagnosis and were rated for white matter lesions on a five point scale: 0 no lesions; 1 = 1 lesion less than 1 mm in diameter; 2 = 1 to 4 lesions 1 mm or greater; 3 = 5 to 10 lesions; 4 = more than 10 lesions or a single lesion more than 1 cm in diameter. In addition, the white matter hyperintensities were volumed objectively with a manual threshold technique. RESULTS: Ratings of white matter lesions were significantly higher in the rubella patients than in the control subjects: 6 of the 11 patients had ratings greater than 1 compared with 1 of the 18 control subjects and none of the 19 schizophrenic patients. Also, MR images in five rubella patients received ratings at the highest end of the scale of abnormality (3 or 4). The white matter hyperintensities were characterized as bilateral T2 signal hyperintensities in periventricular and subcortical regions, punctate or linear in shape; they were observed predominantly in parietal lobes. CONCLUSION: This quantitative MR study of adult rubella patients disclosed abnormal white matter lesions that may correspond to neurovascular lesions known neuropathologically. They do not appear to be directly related to schizophrenialike symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-103
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Brain, magnetic resonance
  • Nervous system, infection


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