Tumefactive demyelination: an approach to diagnosis and management

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013 Sep;84(9):1047-53. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2012-304498. Epub 2013 Jan 19.


Tumefactive lesions are an uncommon manifestation of demyelinating disease and can pose a diagnostic challenge in patients without a pre-existing diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Choosing when to biopsy a tumefactive lesion to exclude alternative pathology can be difficult. Other questions include how best to treat an acute attack as well as the optimal timing of therapy to prevent relapse. This article aims to review the available literature for tumefactive demyelination and to propose an approach to diagnosis and management. We argue that disease modifying therapy should be considered for acute tumefactive demyelinating lesions only once criteria of dissemination in time and space are fulfilled and the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is confirmed.

Keywords: Multiple Sclerosis; Neuroimmunology; Neuropathology; Neuroradiology; Tumours.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Radiography
  • Recurrence