Reye Syndrome


Reye syndrome is a rare form of acute encephalopathy and fatty infiltration of the liver that tends to occur after some acute viral infections, particularly when salicylates are used. The cause of Reye syndrome is unknown, but many cases seem to follow infection with influenza A or B or varicella. Using salicylates (generally aspirin) during such illness increases the risk by as much
as 35-fold.

Symptoms and Signs

The disease varies greatly in severity but is characteristically biphasic. Initial viral symptoms are followed in 5 to 7 days by pernicious nausea and vomiting and a sudden change in mental status. The changes in mental status may vary from a mild amnesia, weakness, vision and hearing changes, and lethargy to intermittent episodes of disorientation and agitation, which can progress rapidly to deepening stages of coma.


  • Clinical findings in association with laboratory testing
  • Liver biopsy


Outcome is related to the duration of cerebral dysfunction, severity and rate of progression of coma, severity of increased intracranial pressure, and degree of blood ammonia elevation Prognosis for survivors usually is good, and recurrences are rare


  • Supportive treatment