How is Susac's syndrome diagnosed?

A neurological exam may find that the patient has:

  • Poor memory, confusion, and poor thinking ability
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty walking
  • Slight paralysis or weakness
  • Overactive tendon reflexes
  • Poor muscle control

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may find:

  • Abnormalities (lesions) in the central portion of the corpus callosum (the bundle of nerves that connects the right and left halves of the brain)
  • Other white matter lesions
  • Lesions in the deep gray matter
  • Enhancement (increased visibility) of the leptomeninges, the tissue that covers the brain

Fluorescein angiography looks at blood flow in the eye. Findings in Susac's syndrome include:

  • Visible white spots in the retina. These "cotton wool spots" are the result of injury due to disturbed blood flow.
  • Blockage of blood vessels in the retina
  • Blood vessel "leakage"
  • Increased "staining" of the walls of the vessels

A hearing test may find:

  • Various degrees of hearing loss, particularly of low-pitched sounds
  • Difficulty understanding speech

Because its symptoms are similar to those of a number of other diseases—such as multiple sclerosis, ADEM, encephalitis, meningitis, lupus, and CNS vasculitis—Susac's syndrome may be difficult to diagnose.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/26/2017.


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