International Journal of Hematology

DOI: 10.1007/s12185-018-2525-0 Pages: 630-636

Characteristics of methotrexate-induced stroke-like neurotoxicity

1. Saitama Children’s Medical Center, Department of Hematology/Oncology

2. Saitama Children’s Medical Center, Department of Radiology

3. The University of Tokyo, The Department of Pediatrics

Correspondence to:
Kentaro Watanabe
Tel: +81-3-5800-8659



Intrathecal administration of methotrexate (IT-MTX) can lead to neurotoxicity. MTX-induced neurotoxicity occasionally manifests with a stroke-like presentation that is difficult to distinguish from genuine stroke. We retrospectively reviewed records of nine patients with leukemia or lymphoma and episodes of stroke-like presentation at our institute between 2010 and 2015 for whom magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data were available. Coagulation test results were compared between the two diagnostic groups. Four patients were diagnosed with MTX-induced stroke-like neurotoxicity. The first neurological event occurred 10–13 days after the fourth or later IT-MTX treatment. All four patients had hemiparalysis, two exhibited disturbed consciousness and three presented with speech disorders. Fibrin/fibrinogen degradation products (FDP) and D-dimer values were within normal ranges. MRI revealed bilateral lesions with restricted diffusion in all four cases. Neurological symptoms fluctuated and resolved within 5 days, and IT-MTX was subsequently re-initiated in all four cases. One patient developed transient hemiparalysis after a subsequent IT-MTX treatment, but this did not recur thereafter. Bilateral lesions on MRI and normal coagulation are indicative of MTX-induced stroke-like neurotoxicity. Continuation of IT-MTX after these events is generally feasible, but adverse event risk should be carefully weighed against anti-tumor benefits.

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