Introduction: Primary (isolated) angiitis of the central nervous system (PACNS) is a rare cause of cerebrovascular disease (CVD), and few leptomeningeal and brain biopsy (LBB)-confirmed cases have been reported from South America.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed charts of patients with diagnosis of cerebral angiitis admitted between March 1991 and July 2001 to a single university hospital in Medellin, Colombia. Patients with definitive diagnosis of PACNS by Alrawi et al.'s LBB criteria were selected. We excluded other causes of cerebral angiitis as well as cases without LBB confirmation.
Results: We report five patients, four men and one woman, with a mean age at onset of 24.4 years, and an average disease progression of 12.4 days. Four presented with headache and motor weakness, three had seizures, and two had alterations of consciousness. Cerebral MRI was abnormal in all five cases; brain CT in four, and cerebral angiography in two. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was abnormal in two patients. Leptomeningeal and brain biopsies revealed mononuclear infiltration in the wall of small blood vessels in all. Three had concurrent meningeal and cerebral involvement, two had necrotizing angiitis, and one had vascular and encephalitic lesions. All received only steroid treatment; the 1-year follow-up revealed good prognosis without relapses.
Conclusion: We report five biopsy-proven cases of PACNS from Colombia associated with neurological and neuroimaging abnormalities; these patients presented a mild inflammatory disease that was correlated with few CSF abnormalities and good response to single steroid treatment without relapses. Leptomeningeal and brain biopsy is mandatory for a definitive diagnosis.