Cerebral infection complicating systemic aspergillosis in acute leukemia: clinical and radiographic presentation

Joseph A. Sparano, Rasim Gucalp, Josefina F. Llena, Franklin G. Moser, Peter H. Wiernik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Cerebral fungal infection is becoming an increasingly recognized entity in immunocompromised patients on post-mortem examination. In order to determine the frequency of clinically significant cerebral fungal infection and define its clinical characteristics in a cohort of immunocompromised patients at high risk of fungal infection, the records of 118 patients with acute leukemia were examined for 57 clinical and laboratory features. The characteristics of 26 patients with systemic aspergillosis and acute leukemia were compared to 92 patients with acute leukemia in a control group. Eight of 118 patients (7%) had cerebral infection (seven Aspergillus, on Candida). Patients with systemic aspergillosis were more likely than patients in the control group to have focal neurologic findings (p = 0.02), confusion (p = 0.04), and abnormal computerized tomography (CT) of the brain characterized by single or multiple, enhancing or non-enhancing hypodense lesions (p = 0.02). Patients with systemic aspergillosis were more likely to die in complete remission than patients in the control group (p = 0.003); three of six patients with aspergillosis who died in remission expired as a consequence of cerebral infection. Cerebral infection complicated systemic Aspergillus infection in seven of 26 patients (27%), versus one of 16 patients with systemic Candida infection (6%) (p = NS). The authors conclude, therefore, that systemic aspergillosis complicating acute leukemia is more likely to be associated with confusion, focal neurologic findings, and and abnormal CT scan of the brain, and that these findings suggest the presence of cerebral infection. In addition, cerebral infection commonly complicates the course of systemic aspergillosis, and is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with acute leukemia. A high index of suspicion is needed to insure early diagnosis and appropriate therapy, particularly in those who achieve remission of their leukemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1992


  • acute leukemia
  • cerebral aspergillosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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