Is Hypertrophic Pachymeningitis Really Idiopathic?

Neurol India. 2022 Nov-Dec;70(6):2422-2426. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.364052.


Background: Hypertrophic pachymeningitis (HPM) is a unique disorder characterized by thickening and fibrosis of the dura mater. Clinically it presents with headache, cranial nerve palsies, and other focal neurological deficits. Two forms exist, one is primary, where all other causes have been excluded and the other is secondary where an identifiable cause exists. It is important to recognize these secondary causes as treatment depends on the etiology.

Objective: To elucidate the various characteristics of HPM. To delineate clinical-radiological features that help differentiate secondary from primary causes and to understand treatment response and disease outcomes of HPM.

Methods: This retrospective observational study included 33 patients who presented with radiological diagnosis of HPM from January 2014 to July 2019. Spontaneous intracranial hypotension patients were excluded. All patients were extensively evaluated for secondary causes and treatment outcomes were analyzed on follow-up.

Results and conclusions: Secondary causes of HPM were present in 48% cases. The clue for primary causes is an associated Tolosa-Hunt syndrome. Secondary causes in our series are immunological, infection, and malignancy. Clues to differentiate primary from these secondary causes are clinical like myelopathy, seizures, poor response to immunosuppression; radiological like hypertrophic cranial nerves, infarcts, bony erosion, and leptomeningeal involvement. There are case reports in literature but large Indian studies are lacking. This manuscript presents a large cohort of cases with HPM, which helps differentiate primary from secondary causes, as management and prognosis depend on etiology. An algorithm depicting the approach to the management of HPM has been presented.

Keywords: Cranial neuropathies; Tolosa-Hunt syndrome; idiopathic hypertrophic pachymeningitis; secondary causes.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Cranial Nerve Diseases* / etiology
  • Dura Mater / pathology
  • Headache / complications
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Meningitis* / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome