Tumefactive demyelination and glioblastoma: a rare collision lesion

Clin Neuropathol. Jul-Aug 2011;30(4):186-91. doi: 10.5414/np300201.


Objective: Inflammatory demyelination occasionally forms a solitary mass lesion clinically and radiographically indistinguishable from glioma, replete with enhancement and mass effect. Termed "tumefactive demyelination" it often prompts a brain biopsy.

Design: We undertook neuroimaging and morphologic analysis of a unifocal demyelinating lesion intimately associated with glioblastoma. MRI characteristics of the lesion were assessed as were biopsy and resection specimens by both histological and immunohistochemical methods.

Results: The patient, a 49-year-old woman, presented with subacute onset headaches. An MRI T1W scan revealed a hemispheric mass with centrally reduced signal and ring enhancement. T2W images showed increased central signal with a rim of reduced signal co-localized to the enhancing ring. A biopsy was initially misinterpreted as demyelination alone, given abundance of histiocytes, the presence of hypertrophic astrocytes with micronuclei ("Creutzfeldt-Peters cells"), and occasional mitoses. Upon consultative review, two histologically distinct components, one inflammatory demyelination and the other an anaplastic astrocytoma were revealed. Subsequent complete resection of the abnormality demonstrated a WHO grade IV astrocytoma (glioblastoma multiforme).

Conclusion: Our experience underscores the importance of adequate tissue sampling during biopsy for suspected glioma, and confirms the fact that active inflammatory demyelination may coexist with a high-grade glioma. Despite detailed study, the basis for the association remains elusive.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes / pathology
  • Biopsy
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Comorbidity
  • Demyelinating Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / surgery
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / epidemiology*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Glioblastoma / surgery
  • Histiocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged