Objective: To identify the clinical and radiologic features that should raise suspicion for the pseudotumoral presentation of cerebral amyloid angiopathy–related inflammation (CAA-I).
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the characteristics of 5 newly diagnosed and 23 previously reported patients in whom the CAA-I imaging findings were initially interpreted as CNS neoplasms.
Results: Most cases (85%) occurred in patients >60 years old. The clinical characteristics at presentation included subacute cognitive decline (50%), confusion (32%), focal deficits (32%), seizures (25%), and headaches (21%). Brain MRI demonstrated infiltrative white matter lesions that exhibited a loco-regional mass effect without parenchymal enhancement (93%). In general, these findings were interpreted as low-grade glioma or lymphoma. Eighteen patients (64%) underwent a biopsy, which was nondiagnostic in 4 patients (14%), and 6 patients (21%) underwent a surgical resection. The primary reason for the misinterpretation of the imaging findings was the absence of T2*-weighted gradient recalled echo (T2*-GRE) sequences on initial imaging (89%). When subsequently performed (39%), the T2*-GRE sequences demonstrated multiple characteristic cortical and subcortical microhemorrhages in all cases. Perfusion MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), which were performed on a subset of patients, indicated markedly reduced relative cerebral blood flow and a normal metabolic ratio.
Conclusion: The identification of one or several nonenhancing space-occupying lesions, especially in elderly patients presenting with cognitive impairment, should raise suspicion for the pseudotumoral presentation of CAA-I and lead to T2*-GRE sequences. Perfusion MRI and MRS appear to be useful techniques for the differential diagnosis of this entity.