Cerebral edema in an overdose patient

Case contributed by Dr Fabio Macori


Found unconscious due to heroin overdose. GCS 3/15.

Patient Data

Age: 35 years
Gender: Male

Non contrasted CT Brain


Diffuse extensive cerebral edema consistent with hypoxic change. There is also apparent increased attenuation in the basal cisterns consistent with pseudosubarachnoid hemorrhage.

CT angiography


On the intracranial angiogram, the internal carotid and vertebral arteries are bilaterally opacified to the upper cervical level.

No contrast enhancement in the intracranial carotid or vertebral arteries or their branches.

Case Discussion

Cerebral edema following heroin overdose is likely in keeping with hypoxic-ischemic brain damage sustained in the course of a drug overdose.

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