Listeria monocytogenes–associated encephalitis is a severe clinical condition that can also be seen in immunocompetent patients. Clinical manifestation and radiologic features of this entity need to be elaborated.
We searched the medical literature during the period spanning from 1991 to 2017 using the keyword “listeria AND (abscess OR brainstem OR encephalit* OR magnetic* OR imaging*).” We included in the review well-documented adult cases with a definitive diagnosis and having magnetic resonance imaging data. Confusion, hemiparesis, cerebellar ataxia, facial paralysis, and gait disturbance were the most frequent findings, detected in >30% of patients during admission. The high rate of facial paralysis was of particular interest. T2 hyperintensity (80/82), contrast enhancement (60/82), and ring-enhancing lesions, which are considered as brain abscess, were found in 46/82 patients. The mortality and neurological sequel rates were 20% and 68%, respectively.
Listeria encephalitis is a severe disease and should be remembered in cases admitted with symptoms related to the brainstem and cranial nerve dysfunction. Cranial magnetic resonance imaging with brainstem and cerebellum involvements and contrast enhancement with or without abscess are particularly suggestive of the listeria-related infection.