A suprasellar germinoma, initially thought to be granulomatous diencephalitis of uncertain cause, responded following chloramphenicol and methicillin treatment both by clinical and radiographic criteria and was not diagnosed until a third biopsy was performed. Analysis of this case and review of the literature lead to the conclusion that adequate diagnostic workup of such lesions requires that biopsy be extensive enough to include the central core as well as the granulomatous reaction that surrounds such tumors. Furthermore, since the degree of inflammation may fluctuate, regression does not mean that the lesion is not neoplastic in origin. In the present instance, the correct diagnosis could have been made earlier if the β-chain of human chorionic gonadotropin had been measured in spinal fluid.
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