Demyelinating pseudotumor

Irma E. Erana-Rojas, Alvaro Barboza-Quintana, Alberto G. Ayala, Gregory N. Fuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Demyelinating disease presenting as a solitary contrast-enhancing mass poses a diagnostic challenge for both radiologists and surgical pathologists. We report the cases of two female patients, aged 23 and 37 years, who exhibited the clinical and radiologic features of a space-occupying mass strongly suggestive of neoplasia. In both patients, magnetic resonance imaging showed a ring-enhancing parietal lesion. Intraoperative frozen sections in both patients displayed histologic features strongly suggestive of a glial neoplasm, including marked hypercellularity, a prominent astrocytic component, and easily identifiable mitotic figures. However, permanent sections showed additional and helpful histologic findings that included Creutzfeldt astrocytes and granular mitoses. Subsequent immunostaining showed that the hypercellularity was principally caused by macrophage infiltration (HAM-56 and CD68) and an associated reactive astrocytosis (glial fibrillary acidic protein). Additional confirmatory tests included special stains for myelin (Luxol-fast-blue), which demonstrated focal, sharply marginated loss of myelin, and for axons (silver stain for axons and neurofilament protein immunohistochemistry), which showed relative preservation of axons in areas of myelin loss. Together, the special stains confirmed the demyelinating nature of the lesions. The keys to avoiding misdiagnosing a demyelinating pseudotumor as a diffuse glioma include a general awareness of this potential pitfall, including the radiologic appearance of demyelinating pseudotumors as contrast-enhancing solitary masses that mimic tumor; knowledge of the characteristic histologic features, including Creutzfeldt astrocytes and granular mitoses; and a high index of suspicion for macrophage infiltration combined with a willingness to use appropriate confirmatory immunohistochemical studies in suspicious or uncertain cases. This approach will minimize the chance of misdiagnosis and subsequent use of inappropriate and deleterious therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-271
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Diagnostic Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Creutzfeldt astrocyte
  • Demyelination
  • Granular mitosis
  • Pseudotumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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