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Encephalopathy of Infection and Systemic Inflammation

Young, G. Bryan

Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology: October 2013 - Volume 30 - Issue 5 - p 454–461
doi: 10.1097/WNP.0b013e3182a73d83
Invited Review

Summary: This review will discuss several intracranial infections and sepsis-associated encephalopathy. Intracranial infections and inflammation of interest to the neurologist and EEG technicians include viral and autoimmune encephalitides; bacterial, fungal, and other meningitides; cerebritis; and brain abscess and subdural empyema. Sepsis-associated encephalopathy refers to a diffuse brain dysfunction secondary to infection that is principally located outside of the central nervous system. It is much more common than all of the intracranial infections put together, at least for adults in Western society. It probably involves a number of mechanisms that are not mutually exclusive and likely vary from patient to patient. Morbidity and mortality are directly related to the severity of SAE. The earliest features of SAE are delirium and mild EEG slowing; it is crucial to recognize these early features and to search for and treat the underlying infection promptly to reduce mortality and morbidity.

Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to G. Bryan Young, MD, Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, Room B10-106, University Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5A5; e-mail:

© 2013 by the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society