Capillary telangiectasias: Clinical, radiographic, and histopathological features: Clinical article

Christina M. Sayama, Anne G. Osborn, Steven S. Chin, William T. Couldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Object. Brain capillary telangiectasias (BCTs) are small, clinically benign, angiographically occult lesions that are usually incidental findings. Large capillary telangiectasias have not been reported previously as most BCTs are very small. Symptomatic BCTs are also rare, with few reports in the literature. The authors review the clinical manifestations, imaging, and histopathological characteristics of BCTs to further elucidate the diagnostic and clinical features of these vascular malformations. Methods. The authors completed a retrospective radiological review of all cases of BCTs in the neuroradiology database at the University of Utah involving patients treated between January 1993 and December 2007. The MR imaging scans were reviewed, and the BCT was measured in 2 dimensions. They arbitrarily chose > 1 cm to define a large BCT as a majority of these lesions were smaller than that. The medical chart and the electronic database were used to gather each patient's clinical information. Results. One hundred thirty patients were identified in the archived neuroradiology database of capillary telangiectasias. Cases involving 105 patients with definite capillary telangiectasias were reviewed, and from these, 7 patients were identified to have a large capillary telangiectasia measuring > 1 cm. Upon further review, 2 of these patients were identified as having symptoms likely related to their capillary telangiectasia. These 2 cases are reported in the article. No patients with smaller BCTs were found to have symptoms related to their lesion. Conclusions. Brain capillary telangiectasias are small vascular malformations that rarely cause symptoms. They are often overlooked on imaging because of their clinically benign nature; however, they have been misdiagnosed as glial tumors in the past. Specific MR imaging sequences (T1-weighted postcontrast and gradient refocused echo) are valuable in aiding diagnosis, as histopathological diagnosis is often not possible. These cases highlight that BCTs can cause symptoms, a finding that may actually be related to the size of the lesion (28.6% of large BCTs in this series were symptomatic, whereas none of the small ones were).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-714
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Capillary telangiectasia
  • Seizure
  • Symptomatic
  • Vascular malformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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