Background: Hereditary diffuse leukodystrophy with spheroids is a rare type of leukoencephalopathy. Mutations in the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor have recently been identified to be the cause of this microgliopathy. Clinical and radiological presentation can often misguide physicians during the diagnosis of patients with this underdiagnosed disease.
Case presentation: We present a 29 year-old woman with a rapid course of hereditary diffuse leukodystrophy with spheroids. She mainly showed cognitive impairment and severe motor dysfunctions. Her MRI showed spotted and confluent hyperintensities of the white matter on T2-weighted images involving the corticospinal tract as well as the corpus callosum. Further, those lesions showed striking restricted diffusion. As this restricted diffusion in all areas showing signs of leukoencephalopathy was so impressive we searched Medline for these terms and got hereditary diffuse leukodystrophy with spheroids as one of the first results. After a comprehensive diagnostic workup and exclusion of other leukoencephalopathies, stereotactic biopsy and genetic testing confirmed the diagnosis.
Conclusion: This case points out at two important features of hereditary diffuse leukodystrophy with spheroids being spotted and/or confluent leukoencephalopathy with areas of restricted diffusion. This might help to identify more patients with this underdiagnosed disease. Moreover, the rapid clinical course in our patient raises the question whether the relatively pronounced areas of restricted diffusion are indicative of a more acute progression of the disease.