Primary Diffuse Leptomeningeal Melanomatosis: Case Report and Review of the Literature

Daniel G. Eichberg, Justin K. Achua, Eduardo Locatelli, Ashish H. Shah, Ricardo J. Komotar, Ali J. Ghods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Primary diffuse leptomeningeal melanomatosis (PDLM) is an extremely rare pathologic condition that can mimic several other neurologic disease states. Methods: We report a rare case of PDLM without evidence of a primary focus. In addition, we performed a comprehensive review of the literature to describe all previously reported cases of PDLM. Results: In the reported case, making the diagnosis of PDLM was difficult. A brain and frontal dural biopsy was nondiagnostic. Computed tomography of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis did not show any distinct solitary mass. After a positron emission tomography scan was performed that showed lumbar sacral enhancement, lumbar dorsal rootlet biopsy was initiated, which was diagnostic of PDLM. Our literature review found 32 previously reported cases of PDLM. Sixteen cases (48.5%) had a distinct focus or mass discovered on imaging workup. The reported case was the seventeenth reported case of PDLM without a distinct focus or mass found on imaging workup. Conclusions: PDLM is an extremely rare disease, and diagnosis is difficult because of nonspecific clinical, radiographic, and laboratory findings. In approximately half of cases, no distinct mass is shown on imaging workup, which may further complicate diagnosis. PDLM should be on the differential diagnosis for cases of diffuse dural enhancement. Neurosurgical intervention is often limited to ventriculoperitoneal shunting for increased intracranial pressure and dural and cranial biopsy to obtain diagnosis. If the initial biopsy is nondiagnostic, hypermetabolic activity as seen on positron emission tomography may be helpful to find an alternative biopsy site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-655
Number of pages8
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Brain biopsy
  • Brain tumor
  • Leptomeningeal enhancement
  • Melanocyte
  • Melanomatosis
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Spinal nerve root biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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