ISSN: 1899-0967
Polish Journal of Radiology
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vol. 84
Case report

Hypertrophic olivary degeneration in a 16-year-old girl after subtotal surgery of a brainstem pilocytic astrocytoma – a case report

Paulina Sobieraj, Marek Duczkowski, Iwona Terczyńska, Agnieszka Duczkowska, Katarzyna Krupa, Ewa Krupska, Monika Bekiesińska-Figatowska

© Pol J Radiol 2019; 84: e68-e72
Online publish date: 2019/01/25
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Hypertrophic olivary degeneration (HOD) is a unique neurological condition caused by interruption of the dentato-rubro-olivary pathway, also known as the triangle of Guillain and Mollaret. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the best modality to diagnose both the degeneration of the inferior olivary nucleus and the underlying cause.

Case report
We describe a case of a unilateral HOD in a 16-year-old girl several months after a subtotal excision of a brainstem pilocytic astrocytoma. Taking into account the patient’s history, tumour recurrence must have been considered, but the typical location and MR morphology, as well as the time of occurrence after brainstem surgery, contributed to the diagnosis of HOD. The causative factor was the interruption of the central tegmental tract, which forms one arm of the Guillain and Mollaret triangle. Additionally, this is an interesting case of a child, who stayed in a coma for several months following brainstem surgery, but finally was discharged home with only minor neurological defects and returned to normal life.

Hypertrophic olivary degeneration is an infrequent neurological condition, especially in the paediatric population. Nevertheless, it should be considered when interpreting late postoperative scans of children with a history of a brain tumour.


MRI, hypertrophic olivary degeneration, brainstem pilocytic astrocytoma

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