Tumefactive demyelination and glioblastoma: A rare collision lesion

S. F. Roemer, B. W. Scheithauer, G. G. Varnavas, C. F. Lucchinetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-191
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Neuropathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • Brain neoplasm
  • Inflammatory demyelination
  • Neoplastic transformation
  • Tumefactive demyelinating disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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