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Pulmonary thromboembolism associated to glioblastoma multiforme: imaging diagnosis of a case and a review of the literature
INTRODUCTION. The incidence of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in patients with cerebral neoplasia has been estimated at 120/100,000 (the second highest rate for any kind of malignant neoplasia). A timely diagnosis is an indispensable requisite in the clinical evaluation of neurological patients. Patients suffering from glioblastoma multiforme present a generalized state of hypercoagulability with a deep vein thrombosis incidence after surgery of between 3 and 60%. The incidence with which pulmonary embolism occurs is 5% in patients following neurosurgical operations, with a mortality rate of between 9 and 50%. CASE
REPORT. We report the case of a 64-year-old male patient with a suspected diagnosis of pulmonary thromboembolism and thrombosis of the right lower limb. Clinical studies included a simple chest X-ray, a Doppler ultrasound recording of the lower limbs, a spiral computed tomography (CAT) scan of the thorax, and a magnetic resonance (MR) scan of the head. The spiral CAT scan showed filling defects in the main pulmonary arteries, a ‘tram track’ appearance and central filling defects. All these findings are compatible with an imaging diagnosis of pulmonary thromboembolism.
CONCLUSIONS. The main aim of this study was to describe the use of spiral CAT scanning as a primary tool in the diagnosis of a case. The concurrence of the spiral scan image, the abnormal increase in D-dimer and the clinical information left no doubts about the diagnosis. The clinical manifestations of pulmonary thromboembolism are not specific and therefore the patient’s life is at risk. In addition, few reports have been published about the association between glioblastoma multiforme and the later appearance of pulmonary thromboembolism (a search was conducted in the medical literature from the last 10 years using MEDLINE), and hence we have presented a communication dealing with this pathological association together with a brief review of the clinical diagnosis of pulmonary thromboembolism and its physiopathogenic mechanisms.
Deep vein thrombosisPulmonary embolismSpiral computed tomography