Investig Magn Reson Imaging.  2015 Dec;19(4):231-236. 10.13104/imri.2015.19.4.231.

Tumor-like Presentation of Tubercular Brain Abscess: Case Report

  • 1Department of Radio-diagnosis, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Patan, Nepal.
  • 2Department of Radio-diagnosis, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • 3Department of Neurosurgery, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • 4Department of Pathology, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • 5Department of Neurology, National Academy of Medical Sciences, Bir Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal.


A 17-year-old girl presented with complaints of headache and decreasing vision of one month's duration, without any history of fever, weight loss, or any evidence of an immuno-compromised state. Her neurological examination was normal, except for papilledema. Laboratory investigations were within normal limits, except for a slightly increased Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR). Non-contrast computerized tomography of her head revealed complex mass in left frontal lobe with a concentric, slightly hyperdense, thickened wall, and moderate perilesional edema with mass effect. Differential diagnoses considered in this case were pilocytic astrocytoma, metastasis and abscess. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) obtained in 3.0 Tesla (3.0T) scanner revealed a lobulated outline cystic mass in the left frontal lobe with two concentric layers of T2 hypointense wall, with T2 hyperintensity between the concentric ring. Moderate perilesional edema and mass effect were seen. Post gadolinium study showed a markedly enhancing irregular wall with some enhancing nodular solid component. No restricted diffusion was seen in this mass in diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) showed increased lactate and lipid peaks in the central part of this mass, although some areas at the wall and perilesional T2 hyperintensity showed an increased choline peak without significant decrease in N-acetylaspartate (NAA) level. Arterial spin labelling (ASL) and dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC) enhanced perfusion study showed decrease in relative cerebral blood volume at this region. These features in MRI were suggestive of brain abscess. The patient underwent craniotomy with excision of a grayish nodular lesion. Abundant acid fast bacilli (AFB) in acid fast staining, and epithelioid cell granulomas, caseation necrosis and Langhans giant cells in histopathology, were conclusive of tubercular abscess. Tubercular brain abscess is a rare manifestation that simulates malignancy and cause diagnostic dilemma. MRI along with MRS and magnetic resonance perfusion studies, are powerful tools to differentiate lesions in such equivocal cases.


Brain abscess; Magnetic resonance imaging; Diffusion weighted imaging; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Perfusion imaging
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