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Travis Quinoa, Fareed Jumah, Vinayak Narayan, Zhenggang Xiong, Anil Nanda and Simon Hanft

Central nervous system infections in immunosuppressed patients are rare but potentially lethal complications that require swift diagnoses and intervention. While the differential diagnosis for new lesions on neuroradiological imaging of immunosuppressed patients typically includes infections and neoplasms, image-based heuristics to differentiate the two has been shown to have variable reliability.

The authors describe 2 rare CNS infections in immunocompromised patients with atypical physical and radiological presentations. In the first case, a 59-year-old man, who had recently undergone a renal transplantation, was found to have multifocal Nocardia amikacinitolerans abscesses masquerading as neoplasms on diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI); in the second case, a 33-year-old man with suspected recurrent Hodgkin’s lymphoma was found to have a nonpyogenic abscess with cytomegalovirus (CMV) encephalitis.

As per review of the literature, this appears to be the first case of brain abscess caused by N. amikacinitolerans, a recently isolated superbug. Despite confirmation through brain biopsy later on in case 1, the initial radiological appearance was atypical, showing subtle diffusion restriction on DWI. Similarly, the authors present a case of CMV encephalitis that presented as a ring-enhancing lesion, which is extremely rare. Both cases draw attention to the reliability of neuroimaging in differentiating an abscess from a neoplasm.

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Michael M. McDowell, Simon J. Hanft, Sophie A. Greenberg, Rahmatullah Rahmati, Vincent Carrao, Sidney Eisig and Richard C. E. Anderson

The authors report on the surgical management of an extensive lesion of the upper cervical spine that required an uncommon transmandibular approach to facilitate exposure, resection, and stabilization in a pediatric patient. A 6-year-old boy with a large aneurysmal bone cyst of the C-2 vertebra presented with progressive weakness and right-sided neck pain. The lesion extended laterally into the soft tissue of the neck, inferiorly to C-4, and posteriorly around the spinal cord. A transmandibular osteotomy was performed to provide adequate exposure for complete resection of the mass and anterior C1–3 instrumentation and fusion. Subsequently, the patient underwent occiput to C-4 posterior instrumentation and fusion. The patient tolerated the operation well and had regained all function at 3 and 11 months' follow-up. No neurological complications or problems of speech, swallowing, or respiration occurred. Even in pediatric patients, the transmandibular approach for the treatment of upper cervical spine lesions is an effective method of maximizing exposure for complex lesions requiring resection and stabilization.