Normal intracranial calcifications

Last revised by Yaïr Glick on 29 Nov 2023

Normal intracranial calcifications can be defined as all age-related physiologic and neurodegenerative calcifications that are unaccompanied by any evidence of disease and have no demonstrable pathological cause.

The most common sites include:

  • pineal gland

    • seen in 2/3 of the adult population and increases with age 1

    • calcification over 1 cm in diameter or in patients under nine years of age may be suggestive of a neoplasm

  • habenula

    • it has a central role in the regulation of the limbic system and is often calcified with a curvilinear pattern a few millimeters anterior to the pineal body in 15% of the adult population 1

  • choroid plexus

    • a very common finding, usually in the atrial portions of the lateral ventricles (choroid glomus) 1

    • calcification in the third or fourth ventricle or in patients less than nine years of age is uncommon

  • basal ganglia

    • most commonly in the globi pallidi

    • are usually incidental idiopathic findings that have an incidence of ~1% (range 0.3-1.5%) and increase with age 1

    • usually, demonstrate a faint punctate or a coarse conglomerated symmetrical calcification pattern

    • see basal ganglia calcification for specific differential

  • falx, dura mater or tentorium cerebelli

    • occur in ~10% of the elderly population 1

    • dural and tentorial calcifications are usually seen in a laminar pattern and can occur anywhere within the cranium

  • petroclinoid ligaments

    • common age-related degeneration sites and usually have laminar or mildly nodular patterns 1

  • superior sagittal sinus

    • common age-related degeneration sites; usually have laminar or mildly nodular patterns 1

  • dentate nuclei of cerebellum 1

  • arachnoid granulation 6

    • usually calcify along the skull vault, along the superior longitudinal venous sinuses

  • internal carotid artery 6

    • calcifications are usually seen in the elderly

  • sclerae 6

  • hippocampi

See also

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: basal ganglial calcification
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  • Case 2: petroclinoid ligament calcification
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  • Case 3: falx cerebri calcification
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  • Case 4: tentorium cerebelli calcifications
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  • Case 5: Bochdalek's flower basket
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  • Case 6: senile calcific scleral plaques
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  • Case 7: calcified pineal gland and habenula
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