Meningeal involvement occurred in eight (22%) of 36 adult patients with AIDS-related systemic non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, seen over a 10-year period. Clinical symptoms consisted of cranial nerve palsies, radicular involvement, headache or diffuse encephalopathy. CSF examination established the diagnosis in all cases. Systemic disease had been diagnosed seven to 33 weeks before lymphomatous meningitis in six patients, whereas in the remaining two patients diagnoses of systemic and meningeal disease were made simultaneously. All patients had intermediate or high grade lymphomas and widespread disease. In contrast to non-AIDS related lymphomas, bone marrow involvement at initial staging cannot be used to select patients for prophylactic treatment, as seven of our eight patients had no initial bone marrow involvement. In this retrospective review, prognosis of lymphomatous meningitis was extremely poor, with a mean survival of only five weeks. Survival of patients with systemic lymphoma who eventually developed lymphomatous meningitis was 4.0 months compared with 7.2 months for those who did not. Lymphomatous meningitis appears to have the worst outcome of all AIDS-related neurological complications, regardless of treatment.
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