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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 248072, 5 pages
Clinical Study

Neoplastic Meningitis: How MRI and CSF Cytology Are Influenced by CSF Cell Count and Tumor Type

1Department of Neurology, Medical School, University of Goettingen, Germany
2Department of Neurosurgery, University of Zurich, Switzerland
3Department of Neuroradiology, Medical School, University of Goettingen, Germany
4Institute of Surgical Research, University of Marburg, Baldinger Straβe, 35043 Marburg, Germany
5Department of Neuroradiology, University of Hamburg, Germany
6Department of Neurology, University of Marburg, Baldinger Straβe, 35043 Marburg, Germany

Received 5 August 2013; Accepted 30 September 2013

Academic Editors: W. Hall and R. Sica

Copyright © 2013 P. Prömmel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Although CSF cytology and MRI are standard methods to diagnose neoplastic meningitis (NM), this complication of neoplastic disease remains difficult to detect. We therefore reevaluated the sensitivity of gadolinium (GD)-enhanced MRI and cerebrospinal-fluid (CSF)-cytology and the relevance of tumor type and CSF cell count. Methods. We retrospectively identified 111 cases of NM diagnosed in our CSF laboratory since 1990 with complete documentation of both MRI and CSF cytology. 37 had haematological and 74 solid neoplasms. CSF cell counts were increased in 74 and normal in 37 patients. Results. In hematological neoplasms, MRI was positive in 49% and CSF cytology in 97%. In solid tumors, the sensitivity of MRI was 80% and of cytology 78%. With normal CSF cell counts, MRI was positive in 59% (50% hematological, 72% solid malignancies) and CSF cytology in 76% (92% in hematological, 68% in solid neoplasms). In cases of elevated cell counts, the sensitivity of MRI was 72% (50% for hematological, 83% for solid malignancies) and of CSF cytology 91% (100% for haematological and 85% for solid neoplasms). 91% of cytologically positive cases were diagnosed at first and another 7% at second lumbar puncture. Routine protein analyses had a low sensitivity in detecting NM. Conclusions. The high overall sensitivity of MRI was only confirmed for NM from solid tumors and for elevated CSF cell counts. With normal cell counts and haematological neoplasms, CSF-cytology was superior to MRI. None of the analysed routine CSF proteins had an acceptable sensitivity and specificity in detecting leptomeningeal disease.