Cerebellar haemorrhage resulting in obstructive hydrocephalus and ascending transtentorial herniation

Case contributed by Dr Henry Knipe


New onset ataxia on the left. Past history of metastatic breast cancer.

Patient Data

Age: 45 years
Gender: Female

Large left cerebellar hemisphere haemorrhage that extends across the midline and results in significant mass effect. There is almost complete effacement of the fourth ventricle, and this results in hydrocephalus. The vermis bulges into the quadrigeminal cistern, but there is no significant cerebellar tonsillar herniation.

Layering of intraventricular haemorrhage within both trigones. Periventricular high FLAIR signal due to transependymal oedema.


Large posterior fossa haemorrhage, centred in the left cerebellar hemisphere, results in obstructive hydrocephalus and ascending transtentorial herniation.

The patient proceeded to craniotomy and evacuation of the haemorrhage:

MACROSCOPIC DESCRIPTION: Multiple tan fragments 20x20x4mm. A1. (SD)

MICROSCOPIC DESCRIPTION: The section shows multiple fragments of blood clot. These contain solid aggregates of a densely hypercellular tumour. Tumour cells have pleomorphic round and oval vesicular nuclei, many with conspicuous nucleoli and a variable amount of pale cytoplasm. Scattered mitotic figures are noted and there are foci of tumour necrosis. Immunohistochemistry shows strong (+++) nuclear staining in >90% of tumour cells for both oestrogen and progesterone receptor and strong (+++) complete membrane staining for HER-2 in >90% of tumour cells. There is also strong cytoplasmic staining in tumour cells for GCDFP, and cytokeratin CK7 as well as strong nuclear staining for GATA3. No staining for CDX2, tyrosinase or cytokeratins CK5&6 or CK20 is seen in tumour cells. The features are of metastatic undifferentiated carcinoma most consistent with an origin from breast. A small fragment of unremarkable cerebellar cortex is also included.

DIAGNOSIS: Metastatic undifferentiated carcinoma with features most consistent with an origin from breast.

Case Discussion

Cerebellar haemorrhages are uncommon, accounting for <10% of intracranial haemorrhage. They arise from poorly controlled hypertension or underlying lesions. The latter was the cause in this patient with a history of breast cancer and underlying breast metastases on histopathology. 

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Case information

rID: 39534
Case created: 8th Sep 2015
Last edited: 26th Sep 2017
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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