, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 625-635,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Sep 2013

Brain stones revisited—between a rock and a hard place

Abstract

Objectives and methods

Large intracranial calcifications are occasionally encountered in routine computed tomography (CT) scans of the brain. These calcifications, also known as “brain stones”, can be classified according to location and aetiology. Combining imaging findings with relevant clinical history and physical examination can help narrow down the differential diagnosis and may allow confident diagnosis in certain situations.

Results

This article provides a pictorial review illustrating various clinical entities resulting in brain stones.

Discussion

Based on location, brain stones can be classified as extra- or intra-axial. Extra-axial brain stones comprise tumours and exaggerated physiological calcifications. Intra-axial brain stones can further be classified according to aetiology, namely neoplastic, vascular, infectious, congenital and endocrine/metabolic. Imaging findings combined with essential clinical information can help in narrowing the differential diagnosis, determining disease state and evaluating effect of therapy.

Teaching Points

Based on location, brain stones can be either extra- or intra-axial.

Extra-axial brain stones comprise tumours and exaggerated physiological calcifications.

Intra-axial aetiologies include neoplastic, vascular, infectious, congenital and endocrine/metabolic.

CT scan is the mainstay in identifying and characterising brain stones.

Certain MRI sequences (gradient echo T2* and susceptibility-weighted imaging) are considered adjunctive.