Progressive brainstem compression in an infant with neurocutaneous melanosis and Dandy-Walker complex following ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement for hydrocephalus: Case report

Shearwood McClelland, Lawrence R. Charnas, Karen S. SantaCruz, Hart P. Garner, Cornelius H. Lam

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18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neurocutaneous melanosis (NM) coexisting with the Dandy-Walker complex (DWC) is a rare condition, with fewer than 15 cases reported in the literature. The authors present a case of an infant with NM and DWC suffering from progressive brainstem compression following ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement for hydrocephalus. This 1-yearold boy with congenital melanocytic nevi had met normal developmental milestones until the age of 11 months, when he began regressing in ambulation and language function. Intractable vomiting had developed 1 week later. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the brain revealed DWC with hydrocephalus, and spinal MR images demonstrated a proliferative process within the meninges, consistent with NM. The patient underwent right frontal VP shunt placement resulting in immediate symptom relief, but 3 weeks later became irritable, increasingly lethargic, unable to pull to stand, and unable to tolerate solid food without choking. Due to these symptoms and intractable vomiting, the patient presented to the authors' institution. Brain MR imaging revealed a new-onset diffuse cystic process with anterior and posterior brainstem compression, marked kinking of the cervicomedullary junction, melanocyte pigmentation of the left temporal lobe, diffuse leptomeningeal enhancement, and no evidence of hydrocephalus. Consistent with these imaging findings, the degree of brainstem involvement upon gross visualization predictably deterred resection attempts beyond those necessary for biopsy. Pathological examination revealed diffuse melanocytosis, and the family decided not to pursue aggressive measures postoperatively. This report indicates the potential for rapid intracranial manifestation of diffuse melanocytosis in NM patients. Although the prognosis is poor, early neurosurgical involvement in these patients may provide tissue diagnosis and the potential for decompression if the process is caught early in its course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-503
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Volume107
Issue number6 SUPPL.
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007

Keywords

  • Brainstem compression
  • Dandy-Walker complex
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Neurocutaneous melanosis
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunt

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