Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy limited to the brain stem

Neuroradiology. 2002 Mar;44(3):227-9. doi: 10.1007/s00234-001-0714-6.


Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a subacute demyelinating slow-virus encephalitis caused by the JC polyomavirus in 2-5% of patients with AIDS. MRI typically shows multiple lesions in the cerebral hemispheres. We present a rare case of rapidly evolving and lethal PML with a severe bulbar syndrome and spastic tetraparesis in a patient with AIDS. MRI showed high-signal lesions on T2-weighted images confined to the brain stem, extending from the medulla oblongata to the midbrain. JC virus polymerase chain reaction in cerebrospinal fluid was positive, and neuropathology showed the findings of PML. This case was also notable because of the rapid progression despite improved immune status with antiretroviral therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / diagnosis*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy
  • Adult
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Brain Stem / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / complications
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / diagnosis*
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / drug therapy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male