What is the role of CT scanning in the evaluation of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy?

Updated: Jun 12, 2018
  • Author: Michael P Carson, MD; Chief Editor: Edward H Springel, MD, FACOG  more...
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Answer

Answer

Perform a CT scan of the brain to exclude cerebral hemorrhage in the setting of seizures, severe headache, or altered level of consciousness, as depicted in the image below. The fetal radiation exposure with abdominal shielding is well under the permissible 5 rads. CT scan can also be used to exclude mass lesion.

Nonenhanced computed tomography scan of a woman's Nonenhanced computed tomography scan of a woman's brain following an eclamptic seizure, showing hypodense areas involving white matter of the occipital lobes and the high frontal/parietal lobes. Courtesy of Aashit K Shah, MD.

Findings in women with preeclampsia may include bilateral hypodense areas, called venous infarcts or posterior reversible leukoencephalopathy, in the occipital and parietal regions. They represent focal and reversible areas of edema that are the result of capillary leak or focal areas of impaired venous flow. Generally, these areas resolve as the preeclamptic process reverses.


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