Craniocerebral aspergillosis of sinonasal origin in immunocompetent patients: clinical spectrum and outcome in 25 cases

Neurosurgery. 2004 Sep;55(3):602-11; discussion 611-3. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000134597.94269.48.


Objective: Craniocerebral aspergillosis of sinonasal origin has been reported mainly in immunocompromised patients with high mortality, and it has been described very infrequently in immunocompetent hosts. This retrospective study focuses on clinical outcome in relation to anatomic locations of invasive aspergillosis of sinonasal origin in immunocompetent patients with emphasis on our preliminary experience with use of preoperative orally administered itraconazole.

Methods: Medical records of patients treated in two tertiary care hospitals from 1991 to 2003 were reviewed retrospectively. All patients had radiological evidence of disease in the paranasal sinuses with or without intracranial extension. The study cohort was divided into three types on the basis of area of involvement revealed by computed tomographic or magnetic resonance imaging scans of brain. All patients underwent surgical intervention and treatment with antifungal therapy. Preoperative orally administered itraconazole therapy was used in four patients on the basis of neuroradiological features. Clinical outcome was assessed with the Glasgow Outcome Scale, and univariate analysis of prognostic factors was performed with 95% confidence interval (P = 0.05).

Results: Mean patient age was 36.5 years (range, 14-74 yr) with a male preponderance (male-to-female ratio, 23:2). Nasal stuffiness (n = 13), headaches (n = 10), proptosis (n = 9), and nasal discharges (n = 7) were major presenting clinical features. Radiological data were obtained by computed tomographic (n = 25) and magnetic resonance imaging (n = 20) scans of the brain, and diagnoses were established by histopathological analysis (n = 20) or/and fungal cultures (n = 15). Preoperative orally administered itraconazole was given in four patients with intracerebral aspergillosis. Overall mortality was 28% and was highest in patients with Type 1 aspergillosis (66.7%). Type 3 aspergillosis and use of preoperative itraconazole remained statistically significant prognostic factors.

Conclusion: Craniocerebral aspergillosis in immunocompetent hosts has three patterns of presentation that seem to correlate with clinical outcomes. Intracerebral aspergillosis (Type 1) is associated with the worst clinical outcome. Patients with orbital and cranial base aspergillosis (Type 3) had good recovery. Intracranial extradural aspergillosis (Type 2) remained intermediate on the Glasgow Outcome Scale. Preoperative orally administered itraconazole therapy may improve clinical outcome in patients with intracerebral aspergillosis. Prospective clinical studies are required to make firm clinical therapeutic recommendations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Aspergillosis / diagnosis*
  • Aspergillosis / mortality
  • Aspergillosis / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Craniotomy
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale
  • Humans
  • Immunocompetence
  • Itraconazole / therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Fungal / diagnosis*
  • Meningitis, Fungal / mortality
  • Meningitis, Fungal / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Premedication
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rhinitis / diagnosis*
  • Rhinitis / mortality
  • Rhinitis / surgery
  • Sinusitis / diagnosis*
  • Sinusitis / mortality
  • Sinusitis / surgery
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Itraconazole