Large focal tumor-like demyelinating lesions of the brain: intermediate entity between multiple sclerosis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis? A study of 31 patients

Ann Neurol. 1993 Jan;33(1):18-27. doi: 10.1002/ana.410330105.


Thirty-one patients with large, focal cerebral demyelinating lesions are reported. Twenty-four patients had solitary lesions and 7 had multiple foci, the latter apparently of identical age. The lesions presented clinically and radiologically as brain tumors (gliomas or metastases) or as multiple cysts. Six patients were older than 57 years (2 in their 70s) at the onset of their symptoms. The demyelinating nature of the lesions was established through biopsy in each patient and all improved significantly after corticosteroid therapy. Three patients developed additional lesions during the follow-up periods ranging from 9 months to 12 years consistent with the course of multiple sclerosis. Twenty-eight patients did not develop additional lesions. These included 6 patients with multiple lesions at the onset. In 1 of the patients, the first symptoms developed 10 days after receiving vaccination against influenza. Two patients had concomitant malignancy (chronic monomyelogenous leukemia and retroperitoneal seminoma respectively) and 1 patient developed immunoblastic sarcoma in the opposite hemisphere after biopsy diagnosis and steroid treatment of her demyelinating lesion. Tumor-like masses of demyelination may occupy an intermediate position between multiple sclerosis and postinfectious/postvaccination encephalitis. The clinical course (history of vaccination in one instance, acute onset, good response to corticosteroids, no clinical or radiological evidence of new lesions in the great majority of patients) favored postinfectious/postvaccination encephalitis. Lesion size however greatly exceeded that of the small foci of perivenous demyelination seen in typical postinfectious/postvaccination encephalitis and tended to present as space-occupying masses.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Diseases / complications
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Demyelinating Diseases / complications
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Encephalomyelitis / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed