Normal intracranial calcifications

Last revised by Raymond Chieng on 10 Oct 2022

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 punctuate 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
  • eye lens 6
    • usually seen in the elderly
  • hippocampus

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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