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Adenoid cystic carcinoma with a leptomeningeal dissemination in a ‘wash’ pattern
  1. Juan Daniel Prieto Cuadra1,2,
  2. Maria Teresa Dawid de Vera1,2,
  3. Eva García Carrasco3 and
  4. M Isabel Hierro Martín1,2
  1. 1Department of Pathology, Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria, Malaga, Spain
  2. 2Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Málaga (IBIMA), Malaga, Spain
  3. 3Department of Radiology, Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria, Malaga, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Juan Daniel Prieto Cuadra; dannielpriet{at}


A 39-year-old woman was referred to the neurology department due to headache, instability and difficulty walking for 5 months. Several ancillary tests were performed. The blood test showed leucocytosis and the cerebrospinal fluid revealed an increased total protein and glucose consumption. Other infections or autoimmune causes were excluded. The MRI showed non-specific brain and spinal cord lesions. Given the findings described, a differential diagnosis between granulomatous meningoencephalitis and primary tumour or metastasis was proposed. Empirical treatment with tuberculostatic agents and corticosteroids was started. The neurological state of the patient worsened, she fell into a non-responsive coma and died in few days. The clinical autopsy performed revealed an adenoid cystic carcinoma with involvement of the central nervous system that developed leptomeningeal dissemination along the spinal cord in a fluid ‘wash’ pattern.

  • neurology
  • CNS cancer
  • head and neck cancer
  • pathology

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  • Contributors Conceptualisation, formal analysis, methodology, investigation, writing original draft preparation, writing review and editing were performed by JDPC. Formal analysis, methodology, investigation and writing original draft preparation were performed by MTDdV. Writing original draft preparation was done by EGC. Funding acquisition, supervision and visualisation were done by IH.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Case reports provide a valuable learning resource for the scientific community and can indicate areas of interest for future research. They should not be used in isolation to guide treatment choices or public health policy.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.