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Primary leptomeningeal lymphoma masquerading as infectious tubercular meningitis
  1. Salini Sumangala1,
  2. Thidar Htwe2,
  3. Yousuf Ansari3,4 and
  4. Lidia Martinez- Alvarez3,5
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2Department of Respiratory Medicine, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Birmingham, UK
  3. 3Department of Ophthalmology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  4. 4Department of Ophthalmology, Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre, Birmingham, UK
  5. 5Department of Ophthalmology, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thidar Htwe; Thidar.htwe{at}


Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) is infrequent and often poses diagnostic conundrums due to its protean manifestations. We present the case of a South Asian young man presenting with raised intracranial pressure and a lymphocytic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) with pronounced hypoglycorrhachia. Progression of the neuro-ophthalmic signs while on early stages of antitubercular treatment led to additional investigations that produced a final diagnosis of primary leptomeningeal lymphoma. Treatment with chemoimmunotherapy (methotrexate, cytarabine, thiotepa and rituximab (MATRix)) achieved full radiological remission followed by successful autologous transplant. This case highlights the difficulties and diagnostic dilemmas when PCNSL presents as a chronic meningeal infiltrative process. While contextually this CSF is most often indicative of central nervous system tuberculosis and justifies empirical treatment initiation alone, it is essential to include differential diagnoses in the investigation work-up, which also carry poor prognosis without timely treatment. High suspicion, multidisciplinary collaboration and appropriate CSF analysis were the key for a correct diagnosis.

  • CNS cancer
  • haematology (including blood transfusion)
  • infection (neurology)
  • ophthalmology

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  • Contributors SS and TH contributed equally to this case report in terms of literature search, writing, discussion and learning points, and share first authorship. YA contributed to the initial literature search and ophthalmology findings and images. LM-A reviewed and revised the article, and contributed to the discussion part and the references.

  • 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.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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