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Diffuse Brain Atrophy
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Diffuse Brain Atrophy

My two year old child got pneumonia and was admitted to hospital on 1st January. He developed further complications and was kept on sedation (Midazolam, morphin etc) for a month.  Now MRI today has confirmed "Diffuse Brain Atrophy".  Please describe what it is and whether it is curable and what are the effects.
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Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.

Without the ability to examine your child and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the implications of his/her MRI findings are. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

Atrophy is a term that signifies, to put it simply, loss of brain tissue, or shrinkage of the brain. Atrophy of the brain to a certain extent is normal with aging; in people with dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders, the atrophy is out of proportion to the age, and correlates with memory loss and other problems seen in dementia.

In a 2 year old child, atrophy could signify several possibilities. In children with prolonged seizures, atrophy of the brain can occur. In children with neurometabolic or neurodegenerative disorders (mitochondrial disorders, certain genetic disorders etc), brain atrophy can occur as well; such children often experience a severe illness in response to infection. Lack of oxygen and/or blood flow to the brain (what is termed hypoxic-ischemic injury) can also lead to atrophy. Certain medications, such as anti-epileptics, can also lead to brain atrophy. Malnutrition can lead to brain atrophy as well. The implications of the atrophy (what the effects are) depend on the extent of the atrophy and the cause.

It is important to understand the extent of the brain atrophy; mild atrophy has little implications in some cases. Children's brains are very resilient, and some areas of the brain can pick up for damaged areas, leaving the child with little deficit. More moderate or severe atrophy may signify damage to the brain which may have long term implications on motor and cognitive deficit.

Discussion of your child's MRI findings with his/her pediatricians is recommended. If indicated, evaluation by a pediatric neurologist may be of benefit as well.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
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