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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 47  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 256-7

An unusual periaqueductal glioma: A short report.

Department of Neurosurgery, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012, India., India

Correspondence Address:
D P Muzumdar
Department of Neurosurgery, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012, India.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 11832642

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 :: Abstract 

A rare case of periaqueductal glioma with an unusual radiological picture is presented. A forty-five year old male presented with progressive bilateral third and eighth nerve paresis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed a diffuse periaqueductal tumour with sparing of aqueduct and no hydrocephalus. MRI is a useful adjunct in such a situation for contemplating appropriate modality of treatment.

Keywords: Brain Neoplasms, pathology,radiography,therapy,Case Report, Glioma, pathology,radiography,therapy,Human, Male, Middle Age, Periaqueductal Gray, pathology,radiography,

How to cite this article:
Muzumdar D P, Goel A. An unusual periaqueductal glioma: A short report. J Postgrad Med 2001;47:256

How to cite this URL:
Muzumdar D P, Goel A. An unusual periaqueductal glioma: A short report. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2001 [cited 2022 Nov 28];47:256. Available from:

Midbrain gliomas are extremely rare in adults. They are common in childhood and adolescent group. The epicentre of brainstem gliomas is usually in the pons and they may extend into the midbrain or the medulla. They are low grade and indolent tumours with a relatively good prognosis. An unusual case with an interesting radiological picture of glioma involving and limited to the midbrain and encircling the aqueduct circumferentially is presented.

  ::   Case history Top

A forty-five year old male presented with complaints of gradual and progressively decreased hearing in both ears, inability to open both eyes and ataxia for three months. He had no visual complaints. There was no history suggestive of tuberculosis. On examination, there was bilateral third nerve paresis and severe sensorineural deafness in both ears. Other cranial nerves were normal. There was mild truncal ataxia. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain showed a diffuse, ill-defined tumour involving the entire tectum of the midbrain and encircling the aqueduct. The tumour appeared iso-hypointense on T1-weighted images and hyperintense on T2-weighted images [Figure - 1] & [Figure - 2]. The midbrain was uniformly expanded [Figure - 3]. The aqueduct was normal in size and appeared to be spared by the tumour. The pons was uninvolved by the tumour. There was no hydrocephalus. In this clinical situation and with the radiological imaging an astrocytoma of the midbrain seemed most likely. Direct or stereotactic surgery was deferred as the tumour was diffuse, ill defined and in an extremely eloquent area. The patient was subjected to direct radiotherapy. At three months following radiotherapy, the patient had a marginal but definite recovery from his symptoms.

  ::   Discussion Top

Intrinsic tumours involving the brainstem are usually seen in the childhood and adolescent age group. They are rare in adulthood. The incidence of involvement of midbrain in brainstem tumours is about 16% as compared to pontine involvement of 84%.[1] Usually, the epicentre of “diffuse” tumour is in the pons and secondary extension is noted in the midbrain or the medulla. In our case, the pons was uninvolved by the tumour and the epicentre was in the midbrain. The triad of conjugate gaze paralysis, mental changes and long tract signs is highly suggestive of tumours in this region.[2] Mental symptoms occur early in the course of the disease and are predominant. They manifest as slow and progressive dementia, memory, impairment, confusion and apathy. Sleep disturbances are common. Bilateral deafness as a presenting feature has also been reported in such cases.[3],[4] The exact cause of bilateral deafness in brainstem lesions is not known. However, selective involvement of bilateral cochlear pathways can occur, presumably due to the bilateral symmetry in brainstem tumours.[3] Altered consciousness can be a primary presenting feature in larger peri-aqueductal gliomas as the centre of consciousness is thought to be present around the anterior end of the aqueduct. MRI is the ideal investigation since the delineation of these tumours is poor on CT scan.[5] Compromise of the aqueduct diameter is rare in brainstem gliomas and hydrocephalus is not a frequently observed feature in these cases. The sparing of the aqueduct despite the tumour encircling it was seen clearly in our case. Treatment is usually needed for symptomatic hydrocephalus or direct pressure symptoms of the tumour.[5],[6] Brainstem gliomas are usually low-grade astrocytomas and generally have a more favourable prognosis.[7],[8] In view of the diffuse nature of the tumour and the relatively characteristic features of a glioma any form of surgery was not performed in our case and the patient was subjected to direct radiation treatment. The role of surgical biopsy in such cases in not clearly defined in the literature and most authors favour direct radiation.[9],[10],[11] Direct surgery is generally undertaken only for a focal, cystic or an exophytic component. Good response to radiation has been uniformly observed.[9],[10],[11] The overall prognosis becomes relatively worse with advancing age. The role of adjuvant chemotherapy is controversial.[7]

The radiological picture of the midbrain glioma encircling the aqueduct is unusual and interesting. Such a lesion has not been reported earlier in the literature.

 :: References Top

1. Mantravadi RV, Pathak R, Bellur S, Liebner EJ, Haas R. Brainstem gliomas. An autopsy study of 25 cases. Cancer 1982; 49:1294-1296.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Netsky MG, Strobos RRJ. Neoplasms within the midbrain. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 1951; 68:118-129.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Dix MR, Hood JD. Symmetrical hearing loss in brain stem lesions. Acta Otolaryngol 1973; 75:165-177.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Haguenauer JP. [Deafness caused by brain stem lesions]. Rev Otoneuroophtalmol 1973; 45:69-74.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Boydston WR, Sanford RA, Muhlbauer MS, Kun LE, Kirk E, Dohan FC Jr., et al. Gliomas of the tectum and periaqueductal region of the mescencephalon. Paediatr Neurosurg 1991; 17:234-238.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.May PL, Blaser SI, Hoffman HJ, Humphreys RP, Harwood-Nash DC. Benign intrinsic tectal “tumors” in children. J Neurosurg 1991; 74:867.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Nitta T, Sato K. A clinicopathological study of nine cases of midbrain glioma. No Shinkei Geka 1995; 23:405-410.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Hamilton MG, Hagen N, Lauryssen C. Focal midbrain glioma: long term survival in a cohort of 16 patients and the implications for management. Can Neurol Sci 1996; 23:204-207.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Tokuriki Y, Handa H, Yamashita J, Okumura T, Paine JT. Brainstem glioma: an analysis of 85 cases. Acta Neurochir (Wien)1986;79:67-73.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Linstadt DE, Edwards MS, Prados M, Larson DA, Wara WM. Hyperfractionated irradiation for adults with brainstem gliomas. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 1991; 20:757-760.  Back to cited text no. 10    
11.Landolfi JC, Thaler HT, DeAngelis LM. Adult brainstem gliomas. Neurology 1998; 51:1136-1139.   Back to cited text no. 11    


[Figure - 1], [Figure - 2], [Figure - 3]


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