Primary central nervous system germinomas of the medulla oblongata are extremely rare and usually have been found in young female Asian patients. The authors present an illustrative case of a patient who presented with severe medullary and posterior cord syndrome, the first South American case published to date, to the authors’ knowledge.
Initially, the radiological differential diagnosis did not include this entity. The lesion was located at the obex and exhibited a well-delineated contrast enhancement without hydrocephalus. An emergency decompressive partial resection following functional limits was performed. After histological confirmation, radiotherapy was indicated, with complete remission achieved at a 6-month follow-up. The patient, however, continued to have a severe proprioceptive disorder. The literature review identified 21 other such patients. The mean age for this location was 23 years, with a strong female and Asian origin predilection. All tumors exhibited contrast enhancement, and only one presented with hydrocephalus.
In the absence of elevated tumor markers, radiological clues such as a well-delineated, contrast-enhanced lesion arising from the obex, without hydrocephalus, associated with demographic features such as young age, female sex, and Asian heritage, should evoke a high level of suspicion for this diagnosis. Gross total resection must not be attempted, because this tumor is potentially curable with high-dose radiotherapy.