Intraocular-central nervous system lymphoma: Clinical features, diagnosis, and outcomes

Esen Karamursel Akpek, Irma Ahmed, Frederick H. Hochberg, Masoud Soheilian, Thaddeus P. Dryja, Frederick A. Jakobiec, C. Stephen Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Objective: To analyze the clinical features, laboratory investigations, and diagnosis of intraocular-central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma in a cohort of patients who underwent diagnostic vitrectomy. Design: Retrospective case series. Method and Study Materials: Thirty-four vitreous biopsy specimens obtained from 26 patients with treatment-resistant or unusual uveitis were re-evaluated in a masked fashion. The specimens were classified into three groups: 'negative,' 'suspicious of malignancy,' and 'positive' based on the cytologic features, immunomarkers, and flow cytometry. The medical records of the patients were reviewed retrospectively. Main Outcome Measures: The reliability of vitreous cytology in diagnosing intraocular-CNS lymphoma and the differences in clinical features of patients with intraocular-CNS lymphoma and uveitis. Results: The two ocular pathologists concurred in their criteria for interpretation of all specimens. There was 100% concordance between the cytologic reports read independently by the two ocular pathologists over the 5-year period and the read-out done in a masked fashion at the time of the study. Ten patients were diagnosed with intraocular-CNS lymphoma based on the vitreous cytology and clinical features. The time interval between the initial presentation and vitreous biopsy was 1 week to 2 years, with 80% of the patients diagnosed within the first year. Retinal involvement in the form of lymphomatous subretinal pigment epithelial infiltrates, vasculitis, and apparent retinochoroiditis was present in six cases. Initial neuroimaging studies revealed concomitant CNS involvement in three patients, and an additional three developed CNS lymphoma following diagnosis by vitreous biopsy. Patients were treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or both. Two of the four patients with a follow- up of greater than 12 months died due to CNS involvement. Conclusions: Vitreous cytology is a sensitive, reliable, and reproducible method of diagnosing intraocular-CNS lymphoma. A high index of suspicion based on the clinical findings and course of the uveitis is critically important in decision-making for diagnostic vitrectomy. Central nervous system involvement is frequent and associated with a high mortality rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1805-1810
Number of pages6
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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