Unifying Concepts

Criteria for Neurosurgical or Neuroradiologic Intervention for Mold Infections of the Central Nervous System (CNS)

The clinical characteristics of mold infections of the CNS warrant assessment for possible biopsy and neurosurgical intervention. A definitive diagnosis almost invariably requires a biopsy, with prompt inspection of the specimen by means of wet-mount preparation with calcofluor white stain, culture, and histologic analysis (with Gomori methenamine silver stain and periodic acid–Schiff stain). In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis may be helpful if cultures of biopsy specimens are negative.

Criteria for Neurosurgical or Neuroradiologic Intervention

Indication Intervention Comments
CNS space-occupying lesion with mass effects Surgical decompression with debulking of lesion or stereotactic drainage Choice of approach depends on lesion size, location, and severity; large masses with evidence of brain or spinal cord compression or herniation syndromes (with or without increases in intracranial pressure) should immediately be decompressed, especially in patients with a rapid onset of clinical deterioration
Hydrocephalus Insertion of extraventricular drainage catheter Clinical deterioration with rostrocaudal brain herniation can occur rapidly as a result of unrecognized hydrocephalus; an external ventricular drain allows monitoring of intracranial pressure and collection of CSF samples
Lesion thought to be fungal in origin but not responding to antifungal therapy Surgical open biopsy or stereotactic biopsy Choice of approach depends on lesion location and size
Acute hemispheric stroke with mass effects (ischemic or hemorrhagic) Hemicraniectomy for large middle-cerebral-artery stroke; hematoma aspiration Skull bone removal (craniectomy) reduces intracranial pressure and brain herniation
Mycotic aneurysm with subarachnoid hemorrhage Coiling or surgical aneurysm, parent-artery occlusion, or both Severe subarachnoid hemorrhage induced arterial vasospasm may require catheter angioplasty



  1. McCarthy M, Rosengart A, Schuetz AN, Kontoyiannis DP, Walsh TJ. Mold infections of the central nervous system. N Engl J Med. 2014 Jul 10;371(2):150-60.[Medline]
  2. Davis LE. Fungal infections of the central nervous system. Neurol Clin. 1999 Nov;17(4):761-81. [Medline]


Created Sep 04, 2014.

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