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June 23, 1962

Errors in Diagnosis of Intracranial Tumors

Author Affiliations


From the Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

JAMA. 1962;180(12):1011-1016. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050250017004

The frequency and causes of diagnostic errors were studied in patients with intracranial tumors. Of 34 tumors found unexpectedly at necropsy, 12 were considered purely incidental, while 22 had caused neurologic disturbances and had been erroneously diagnosed during life. Confusion with cerebrovascular disease was most common, particularly in older patients. Glioblastoma multiforme and meningioma were the most frequent types of tumor in the series, and each presented illnesses simulating cerebrovascular thrombosis, carotid artery insufficiency, and subarachnoid hemorrhage. In 17 cases, including 7 meningiomas, there was, in retrospect, sufficient clinical or laboratory evidence to cause considerable doubt regarding the clinical diagnosis. Most of the tumors would have been recognized if contrast intracranial studies had been performed.