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Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo

On-line version ISSN 1678-9946


PITTELLA, José Eymard Homem. Central nervous system involvement in Chagas' disease: an updating. Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo [online]. 1993, vol.35, n.2, pp.111-116. ISSN 1678-9946.

A review was made of the available literature on central nervous system (CNS) involvement in Chagas' disease. Thirty-one works concerning the acute nervous form and 17 others dealing with the chronic nervous form, all presenting neuropathologic studies, were critically analysed. Based on this analysis, an attempt was made to establish the possible natural history of CNS involvement in Chagas' disease. Among others, the following facts stand out: 1) the initial, acute phase of Trypanosoma cruzi infection is usually asymptomatic and subclinical; 2) only a small percentage of cases develop encephalitis in the acute phase of Chagas' disease; 3) the symptomatic acute forms accompanied by chagasic encephalitis are grave, with death ensuing in virtually all cases as a result of the brain lesions per se or of acute chagasic myocarditis, this being usually intense and always present; 4) individuals with the asymptomatic acute form and with the mild symptomatic acute form probably have no CNS infection or, in some cases, they may have discrete encephalitis in sparse foci. In the latter case, regression of the lesions may be total, or residual inflammatory nodules of relative insignificance may persist. Thus, no anatomical basis exists that might characterize the existence of a chronic nervous form of Chagas' disease; 5) reactivation of the CNS infection in the chronic form of Chagas' disease is uncommon and occurs only in immunosuppressed patients.

Keywords : Chagas' disease; Chagasic encephalitis; Acute nervous form; Immuno-suppression.

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