Background: A solitary skull metastasis from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) prior to diagnosis of the primary tumor without liver dysfunction is a very rare event.
Case presentation: A 71-year-old male, without known liver disease, presented to our institution with a palpable occipital scalp mass. On brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a highly enhanced and osteolytic skull tumor was observed. The histological diagnosis obtained from the percutaneous needle biopsy was a cranial metastasis from HCC. The metastatic tumor was removed via occipital craniectomy, and the two primary liver mass lesions were subsequently treated by transarterial chemoembolization.
Conclusion: An isolated skull metastasis may be the sole initial presentation of HCC. Early diagnosis is essential in order to treat the primary disease. A skull metastasis from HCC should be considered in the differential diagnosis in patients with subcutaneous scalp mass and osteolytic defects on X-ray.