Neuroradiology Board Review – Brain Tumors – Case 4

Neuroradiology brain tumor board review. This lecture is geared towards the ABR core exam for residents, but it would be useful for review for the ABR certifying exam or certificate of added qualification (CAQ) exam for neuroradiology.

More description and the answer (spoiler!) are seen below the video.

This case shows images from an MRI through the level of the pons. There is a mass in the left cerebellopontine angle (CP angle). It is causing mass effect on the pons. On postcontrast imaging, you can see that it is avidly enhancing with a few central areas of non-enhancement. A key to this case is identifying where the mass is centered. Does it look like it’s outside the IAC or centered in and expanding the IAC?

The diagnosis is: vestibular schwannoma

Vestibular schwannomas are extraaxial masses arising from the vestibular nerve (8th cranial nerve) either as they pass through the cerebellopontine cistern or in the internal auditory canal. They were previously called acoustic neuromas, but it is preferable to call them vestibular schwannomas given our current understanding of them. A key imaging feature is that they expand the internal auditory canal (IAC).

When approaching a cerebellopontine angle mass, it is useful to take a two step approach. First, determine if you think it is mostly solid and has enhancing components. If so, then think about schwannoma or meningioma as your top two differential considerations. If it is centered in the IAC and causes IAC enhancement, it’s probably a schwannoma. Meningiomas in this location occur but are more likely to have only minimal extension into the IAC without expansion.

This patient also had hydrocephalus from compression of the 4th ventricular outflow. Remember that masses in the posterior fossa can cause hydrocephalus due to mass effect.