John S. Hunt, Jr.1, Rebecca J. Theilmann1, Bill C. Hsu1, Ethan Li1, Zachary Myles Smith1, Miriam Scadeng1, David J. Dubowitz1
Cerebral edema and acute mountain sickness (AMS) share many symptoms suggesting a common etiology. However, the effects of uncomplicated AMS on brain water remain controversial. To investigate the impact of high-altitude hypobaric hypoxia on cerebral water content, we measured T2 signal and ADC during normoxia, and two and seven days hypoxia. In contrast to previous hypoxic studies in a chamber at sealevel, we found a significant reduction in T2 signal and a small (non-significant) increase in ADC in the corpus callosum and caudate nuclei at altitude. This suggests barometric pressure and hydration may be important in the cerebral response to hypoxia.