[A 29-year-old man with diabetes insipidus and cerebellar ataxia and development of spinal cord swelling 15 years after the onset].No To Shinkei. 1997 May; 49(5):473-81.NT
We report a 29-year-old man with diabetes insipidus and cerebellar ataxia who developed spinal cord swelling 15 years after the onset. He was well until 14 years of the age when he noted dizziness. Two years after there was an onset of gait disturbance and slurred speech. He also noted polydipsia and polyuria. He was evaluated at the neurosurgery service of our hospital when he was 17 years of the age. Neurologic examination at that time revealed memory loss, horizontal nystagmus, cerebellar ataxic gait, dysmetria and decomposition more on the left. Cranial CT scan revealed a mass lesion involving the left subthalamic region and the head of the caudate area. Spinal fluid was unremarkable, however, human chorionic gonadotropin was increased to 27 mIU/ml. He was treated by radiation therapy (3,000 rads for total brain area and 5,460 rads for focal region). His CT scan and memory loss improved, however, cerebellar ataxia was unchanged. Three years after the radiation, he started to show choreic movement in his neck and left upper extremity. He was admitted to our service in August 14, 1995 when he was 29 years of the age. On admission, he was alert but disoriented to time; calculation was also poor. Higher cerebral functions were intact. The optic fundi were normal without papilledema. Visual field appeared intact. Gaze nystagmus was observed in all the directions, but more prominent in the horizontal direction. Speech was slurred. Otherwise, cranial nerves were unremarkable. Motor wise, he showed marked truncal and gait ataxia; he was unable to walk because of ataxia. Muscle atrophy and marked weakness was noted in both upper extremities more on the left side. Deep tendon reflexes were diminished in the upper extremities but active in the lower extremities. He was polyuric; urinary specific gravity was low. Spinal fluid contained 6 cells/cmm and 113 mg/ dl of protein; Queckenstedt was positive. MRI revealed swelling of the cervical cord; in addition, the entire cervical region and the medullar oblongata appeared as high signal intensity areas. No mass lesion was noted in the supratentorial structures but the third ventricle was markedly enlarged. Surgical biopsy was performed on the cervical lesion. The patient was discussed in neurologic CPC, and the chief discussant arrived at the conclusion that the patient had germinoma with syncytiotrophoblastic giant cells in the diencephalic region which appeared to have been cured by radiation therapy; he thought that the cervical lesion was the seeding of germinoma. Cerebellar ataxia was ascribed to the remote effect of germinoma. Most of the participants thought that the original tumor was germinoma and the cervical lesion was its spread. Some participants thought that his ataxia was caused by germinoma cells involving the medulla and the inferior cerebellar peduncles. Histologic observation of the biopsied tissue from the spinal cord revealed the typical two cell patterned germinoma. Most of the tumor cells were not stained for an antibody against HCG, but some tumor cells were positively stained. Germinoma is very radio-sensitive; this patient showed T2 high signal lesion involving the medulla oblongata and cervical cord continuously. Probably, tumor cells in the lower brain stem escaped radiation, and gradually spread to the spinal cord over many years. At the time of operation, the surface of the spinal cord was free from tumor cells. Therefore, tumor cells invaded the spinal cord continuously from the medulla oblongata. He was treated with cervical radiation, and his neurologic as well as radiologic findings showed marked improvement.