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Colombia Médica

On-line version ISSN 1657-9534


MERCHAN DEL HIERRO, Xavier et al. Triphasic waves and brain atrophy in patients with acute encephalopathy. Colomb. Med. [online]. 2022, vol.53, n.2, e2034500.  Epub June 30, 2022. ISSN 1657-9534.


Triphasic waves (TW) constitute an electroencephalographic pattern associated with certain kinds of encephalopathy. Brain atrophy may be a predisposing factor linked with TW.


To compare the degree of brain atrophy and white matter disease between patients with acute encephalopathy with and without TW.


A retrospective observational study including adult patients with encephalopathy, with and without TW, hospitalized between 2016 and 2017. The degree of brain atrophy and white matter lesion were defined using the Global Cortical Atrophy and Age Related White Matter Changes (ARWMC) scales, respectively. Scores were compared between groups. Mortality rates were registered.


Sixteen patients with TW were identified matched by age and sex with 30 patients without TW. The mean age was 80 years in the TW group. Women represented 87.5%. Multifactorial encephalopathy was the most frequent diagnosis followed by metabolic encephalopathy. Patients with TW had more brain atrophy (10.43 vs 6.9, p= 0.03). Mean ARWMC was 9.43±6.5 and 8.5 ±7.89 in patients with and without TW respectively (p= 0.5). Mortality rate was higher in the TW group (31.25 vs 6.66% p= 0.02).


Patients with acute encephalopathy and TW had higher degree of cerebral atrophy. It is possible that this structural alteration predisposes to the appearance of TW. There was no significant difference in white matter lesion degree. The mortality of the TW group was high, so future studies are necessary to determine their prognostic value.

Keywords : Triphasic waves; encephalopathy; brain atrophy; white matter; electroencephalogram; clinical neurophysiology.

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