Evolution of white matter lesions in neurofibromatosis type 1: MR findings

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1992 Jul;159(1):171-5. doi: 10.2214/ajr.159.1.1609692.


To characterize further the evolution of white matter lesions in neurofibromatosis type 1, we reviewed 68 MR images in 43 patients (age, 1-31 years), including 25 follow-up studies (mean interval, 27 months). Lesion number, location, morphology, signal characteristics, and contrast enhancement were assessed. Lesion characteristics and changes thereof were correlated with the patients' ages. Thirty-four patients (79%) had white matter lesions. These lesions were hyperintense on T2-weighted images, were isointense on T1-weighted images, and showed no mass effect or contrast enhancement in 31 patients; in three patients, T1-prolongation was observed (one with significant mass effect). None of the lesions evolved into a glioma. The most common locations were the cerebellum (49%), brainstem (22%), and internal capsule (19%). Nineteen patients had white matter lesions and follow-up studies. Lesions decreased in size or number in seven patients (average age, 13 years), showed no change in three (average age, 12 years), increased in size or number in four (average age, 5 years), and showed a mixed pattern (increased/decreased size/number) in four (average age, 7 years). White matter lesions in neurofibromatosis type 1 frequently increase in size or number early in childhood; this did not indicate neoplasia in our study. The lesions tend to resolve with increasing age. Lesion progression in a child more than 10 years old warrants close follow-up to rule out a neoplasm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Stem / pathology*
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / diagnosis*
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies