Cryptococcus meningoencephalitis in AIDS: parenchymal and meningeal forms

J Berkefeld, W Enzensberger, H Lanfermann
Neuroradiology 1999, 41 (2): 129-33
CT and MRI in one case of Cryptococcus neoformans infection showed contrast-enhancing parenchymal lesions resembling granulomata or abscesses. After an initial phase without contrast enhancement, the full extent of the lesions was visible within 2 weeks of presentation. The enhancing masses were assumed to represent intracerebral cryptococcomas. Despite evidence of massive meningeal infection on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination, no radiological signs of meningitis, invasion of the Virchow-Robin spaces or ventriculitis could be demonstrated. With antimycotic treatment the contrast enhancement disappeared and cystic, partly calcified lesions remained. Recurrence of meningeal infection without radiological correlates was apparent in this stage. In a second case of proven cryptococcus meningitis, dilation of Virchow-Robin spaces or cysts in the adjacent parenchyma were the main abnormalities on MRI. Enhancing masses were not detected. These cases may represent two different reactions of the immunocompromised hosts to infection with C. neoformans: widening of the perivascular spaces as a correlate of the more typical meningeal infection and enhancing parenchymal lesions as a sign of further invasion from the CSF spaces. Enhancement of cryptococcomas, indicating an inflammatory response in the surrounding brain, is not typical in patients with impairment of immune function.

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