Primary histiocytic sarcoma of the brain mimicking cerebral abscess

Case report

Rami O. Almefty M.D., Tammy L. Tyree A.C.N.P., David J. Fusco M.D., Stephen W. Coons M.D., and Peter Nakaji M.D.
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  • Division of Neurological Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona
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Histiocytic sarcoma is a rare malignancy with only 10 reports confirmed primarily involving the CNS. The diagnosis is dependent on the finding of malignant cells with histiocytic morphology and immunophenotype. The authors report a case of pathologically proven HS of the CNS. A 16-year-old boy presented with headaches, emesis, and altered sensorium. Noncontrast head CT scanning demonstrated a left parietal mass consistent with a tumor. Surgery was undertaken. Intraoperative findings revealed green-yellow exudates consistent with an abscess. Cultures were obtained and broad-spectrum antibiotics were started. The patient subsequently underwent multiple surgical procedures, including drainage and debulking of abscesses and hemicraniectomy. Two months after initial presentation, the patient's diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma was confirmed. Pathological examination demonstrated necrotizing inflammation with preponderant neutrophil infiltration, variably atypical mononuclear and multinucleate histiocytes, and numerous mitoses. Additional immunohistochemistry studies confirmed immunoreactivity for CD68, CD45, CD45RO, and CD15 and were negative for CD3, CD20, melanoma cocktail, CD30, CD1a, CD34, HMB-45, and melan-A. Once the diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma was confirmed, antibiotics were stopped and radiation therapy was undertaken. Despite treatment, the patient's neurological status continued to decline and the patient died 126 days after initial presentation.

This case represents a rare confirmed example of CNS histiocytic sarcoma. A profound inflammatory infiltrate seen on pathology and green exudates seen intraoperatively make the condition difficult to distinguish from an abscess. Immunohistochemistry showing a histiocytic origin and negative for myeloid, dendritic, or other lymphoid markers is essential for the diagnosis. Further research is needed to establish consensus on treatment.

Abbreviation used in this paper:

HS = histiocytic sarcoma.

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