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May 1989

Brain-Stem Tuberculoma: An Analysis of 11 Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Division de Neurología, Instituto Nacional de Neurología y Neurocirugía, Mexico City. Dr Del Brutto is now with Hospital General Luis Vernaza, Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(5):529-535. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520410063025

• The clinical and radiologic findings in 11 patients with brain-stem tuberculoma were reviewed. Clinical manifestations included various combinations of focal signs and symptoms of subacute onset, similar to those produced by other space-occupying lesions of the brain stem. Evidence of systemic tuberculosis was found in six cases (55%). Computed tomography (CT) usually showed an isodense or hyperdense brain-stem mass with abnormal contrast enhancement; associated supratentorial granulomas were found in four cases, and hydrocephalus was found in two cases. Magnetic resonance imaging showed irregular brain-stem lesions with long T1 and short T2 relaxation times. Cerebrospinal fluid findings were also nonspecific, as smears for acid-fast bacilli were most often negative. An incorrect diagnosis of pontine glioma was made in one patient. In contrast, proper integration of data from CT and magnetic resonance imaging findings, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, and x-ray films of the chest permitted an accurate diagnosis in ten cases. Prompt therapy with antituberculous drugs resulted in clinical improvement, documented by CT, in most patients. Brain-stem tuberculoma should be suspected in patients with space-occupying lesions of the brain stem who live in geographic areas where tuberculosis is endemic. Early diagnosis and prompt medical therapy are important in preventing mortality and reducing morbidity.

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