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Case Rep Neurol. 2013 Jan;5(1):40-6. doi: 10.1159/000348745. Epub 2013 Mar 8.

A rare case of crowned dens syndrome mimicking aseptic meningitis.

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1
Department of Neurology, Hino Municipal Hospital, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Crowned dens syndrome (CDS), related to microcrystalline deposition in the periodontoid process, is the main cause of acute or chronic cervical pain. Microcrystal-line deposition most often consists of calcium pyrophosphate dehydrate crystals and/or hydroxyapatite crystals.

CASE PRESENTATION:

This report describes the case of an 89-year-old woman who presented with sudden onset, high fever, severe occipital headache, and neck stiffness. A laboratory examination revealed a markedly elevated white blood cell count (11,100/┬Ál) and C-reactive protein level (23.8 mg/dl). These clinical findings suggested severe infection such as meningitis with sepsis. However, the results of blood culture, serum endotoxin, and procalcitonin were all negative, and cerebrospinal fluid studies revealed only a slight abnormality. The patient was first diagnosed with meningitis and treated with antiviral and antibiotic agents as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but they only had limited effects. A cervical plain computed tomography (CT) scan and its three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction detected a remarkable crown-like calcification surrounding the odontoid process. On the basis of the CT findings, the patient was diagnosed as a severe case of CDS and was immediately treated with corticosteroids. The patient's condition drastically improved within a week after one course of corticosteroid therapy.

CONCLUSION:

Some atypical symptoms of CDS are misleading and may be misdiagnosed as meningitis, as happened in our case. A CT scan, especially a 3D-CT scan, is necessary and useful for a definitive diagnosis of CDS. CDS should be considered as a differential diagnosis of a possible etiology for fever, headache, and cervical pain of unknown origin.

KEYWORDS:

Calcium pyrophosphate dehydrate crystals; Cervical computed tomography scan; Corticosteroids; Crowned dens syndrome; Meningitis; Odontoid process

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