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Delayed Temporal Lobe Hemorrhage After Initiation of Acyclovir in an Immunocompetent Patient with Herpes Simplex Virus-2 Encephalitis: A Case Report.

  • Mueller, Kyle1
  • Ryan, Joshua E1
  • Tai, Alex1
  • Armonda, Rocco A1
  • 1 Neurosurgery, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.
Published Article
Publication Date
Jan 15, 2017
DOI: 10.7759/cureus.980
PMID: 28191384


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the most common cause of non-epidemic, sporadic, acute focal encephalitis in the United States. Inflammation of the vasculature makes them friable and susceptible to hemorrhage. Massive hemorrhage, though rare, can present in a delayed fashion after initiation of acyclovir and often requires surgical intervention. We report a unique case of delayed temporal lobe hemorrhage after initiation of acyclovir in an immunocompetent patient, specifically for its presentation, virology, and surgical management. A 40-year-old left-handed Caucasian female with chronic headaches, along with a 20-pack-year smoking history, presented to an outside facility with one week of diffuse, generalized headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Initial cranial imaging was negative for hemorrhage. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) studies showed a lymphocytic pleocytosis with elevated protein, along with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive staining for HSV, establishing the diagnosis of HSV-2 encephalitis, which is less common in adults. Acyclovir was initiated and one week later while still hospitalized, the patient developed acute altered mental status with cranial imaging showing a large right temporal lobe hemorrhage with significant midline shift. She was transferred to our facility for surgical intervention. Computed tomography angiography (CTA) was negative for any underlying vascular lesion. She was taken to the operating room for a decompressive unilateral (right) hemicraniectomy and temporal lobectomy. She had no postoperative complications and completed a three-week course of acyclovir. She was discharged to acute rehab with plans to return at a later date for cranioplasty. Intracerebral hemorrhage is an uncommon, although possible sequela, of herpes encephalitis. Despite initiation of early antiviral therapy, close monitoring is warranted, given the pathophysiology of the vasculature. Any decline in the neurological exam and/or increasing symptomatology of increased intracranial pressure mandates immediate cranial imaging to evaluate for possible hemorrhage. Emergent surgical intervention is warranted with large temporal lobe hemorrhages.

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