Neurology India
menu-bar5 Open access journal indexed with Index Medicus
  Users online: 1661  
 Home | Login 
About Editorial board Articlesmenu-bullet NSI Publicationsmenu-bullet Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe Videos Etcetera Contact
  Navigate Here 
 Resource Links
  »  Similar in PUBMED
 »  Search Pubmed for
 »  Search in Google Scholar for
 »Related articles
  »  Article in PDF (708 KB)
  »  Citation Manager
  »  Access Statistics
  »  Reader Comments
  »  Email Alert *
  »  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this Article
 »  Abstract
 » Introduction
 » Case Report
 » Discussion
 »  References
 »  Article Figures
 »  Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded78    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 3    

Recommend this journal


Table of Contents    
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 597-600

Balo's concentric sclerosis involving bilateral thalami

1 Department of Radiodiagnosis, J.N. Medical College, A.M.U, India
2 Firoz Specialist Hospital, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Medical Imaging, Royal Children Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Date of Submission22-Apr-2011
Date of Decision26-Apr-2011
Date of Acceptance17-Jun-2011
Date of Web Publication30-Aug-2011

Correspondence Address:
Farheen Badar
Department of Radiodiagnosis, J.N. Medical College, A.M.U, Medical Road, Aligarh - 202 002, Uttar Pradesh
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.84345

Rights and Permissions

 » Abstract 

Balo's concentric sclerosis (BCS) is a rare inflammatory demyelinating disease of central nervous system, pathologically chracterized by alternate bands of demyelination and preserved myelin tissue. Before the era of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), most cases of BCS were diagnosed on postmortem examination. MRI allows for noninvasive diagnosis by demonstrating characteristic changes which closely parallels the histopathological features of BCS. We report a case of 26-year-old female with BCS involving bilateral thalami, with typical MRI appearance.

Keywords: Balo′s concentric sclerosis, magnetic resonance imaging, thalami

How to cite this article:
Badar F, Azfar SF, Ahmad I, Kirmani S, Rashid M. Balo's concentric sclerosis involving bilateral thalami. Neurol India 2011;59:597-600

How to cite this URL:
Badar F, Azfar SF, Ahmad I, Kirmani S, Rashid M. Balo's concentric sclerosis involving bilateral thalami. Neurol India [serial online] 2011 [cited 2023 Dec 1];59:597-600. Available from:

 » Introduction Top

Balo's concentric sclerosis (BCS) is a rare and fulminant form of idiopathic inflammatory-demyelinating diseases of central nervous system (CNS) and is considered to be a variant of multiple sclerosis (MS). [1] It is characterized pathologically by concentric lesions of alternating demyelinated and myelinated bands in the white matter. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrates these bands as concentric pattern and thus allows differentiation from other pathology. Lesions of BCS have been reported in spinal cord, cerebellum, brain stem, optic chiasm, and cerebral hemispheres. [2],[3],[4] Involvement of thalami in BCS is rather unusual. We present a 26-year-old female with BCS involving bilateral thalami, with characteristic MRI appearance.

 » Case Report Top

A 26-year-old female presented with history of sudden-onset right side hemiparesis and impairment of consciousness. Prior to the day of admission, she had acute-onset severe headache, irritability, and diffuse pain all over the body. There was no history of any infection, or vaccination preceding the symptoms. Urgent plain computed tomography of brain revealed hypodense lesion in bilateral. Over next few hours, her mental status worsened and she had decorticates posturing to painful stimuli, and planter response was bilateral extensor. Brain MRI performed next day revealed concentric pattern of lesion in the bilateral thalami with characteristic alternating hypointense and hyperintense bands on T1-weighted [Figure 1]a and b and T2-weighted [Figure 1]c associated with perilesional-edema. These patterns were best seen in post-contrast images with whorl-like enhancement [Figure 2]a-c. Deep venous sinuses showed normal signal void on conventional spin echo sequence with no filling defect on MR venography. Cerebrospinal fluid examination revealed mild pleocytosis (35 white blood cells/ml), normal glucose, and elevated protein (263-mg/dl). Oligoclonal bands were negative, and the immunoglobulin G (IgG) index was 0.7 (normal <0.8). Peripheral blood counts were normal. Extensive serologic studies including herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2, varicella-zoster virus, HIV type 1 and 2 were negative.
Figure 1: (a) Axial unenhanced T1-weighted image (b) Sagittal unenhanced T1-weighted image showing a concentric ring pattern of lesion in the bilateral thalami. (c) Axial T2-weighted image showed hyperintense signal in the bilateral thalami with alternating hypointense and hyperintense concentric rings with surrounding white matter edema bilaterally

Click here to view
Figure 2: Postcontrast T1-weighted (a) axial, (b) sagittal, and (c) coronal image showed striking concentric enhancement of bilateral thalami lesion

Click here to view

The patient received intravenous methylprednisolone 1000 mg daily for 5 days, and was kept on a maintenance dose of prednisolone 60 mg/day for next 15 days. Her mental status improved with marked improvement in her weakness. Dose of prednisolone was gradually reduced to 30 mg/day. At 12-month follow-up, there were no further relapses and she has started performing some of the routine work with minor assistance. A repeat follow-up MRI was advised; however, patient refused for it.

 » Discussion Top

BCS is considered as rare and severe variant of MS. [1] Most patients are young adults in their third and fourth decades of life, and it is relatively more common in males. [5],[6],[7] It shares the basic pathologic similarity to multiple sclerosis, with the exception of an alternating lamellar pattern of demyelinated white matter and well-preserved white matter. [8] BCS and MS like lesions are also known to coexist in same patient. [5] Clinical course of BCS is highly variable. The common clinical features include headache, aphasia, hemiparesis, sensory disturbance, cognitive or behavioral dysfunction, andseizures. Most reported cases of BCS have been reported from Asian countries, suggesting the role of genetic and environmental factors. [4],[5],[6],[8],[9],[10],[11] Clinical profile, MRI features, and outcome of patients with BCS reported from India are summarized in [Table 1]. Coexistence of BCS and oligodendroglioma in the same patient has also been reported. [10] Traditionally, it has been considered to have a rapidly progressive fatal course, but with advent of MRI, mild and benign course has also been recognized. [4],[5],[6] The cases reported by Karaarslan et al. [4] and Gu et al. [6] had benign clinical course without relapse. Our patient had also a benign course with no relapse in the 12-month follow-up. Before the era of MRI, many cases with mild clinical presentation might have been missed.
Table 1: Clinical characteristics, MRI findings, and outcome of BCS cases from India

Click here to view

The diagnosis of BCS in the past was made on autopsy or histopathologically in the presence of characteristic CNS lesions consisting of concentric rings of demyelination alternating with myelinated white matter. Recently, however, many patients are being diagnosed solely on the basis of characteristic MRI appearance without the need of biopsy and histopathological confirmation. [4],[5],[6],[7],[9] Characteristic MRI features include alternating bands of low and high signal in white matter seen on T2-weighted images and the presence of concentric ring enhancement on postgadolinium T1-weighted images. [4] Mass effect and edema can also occur. [9] Diffusion-weighted findings with central T2 shine through and peripheral restricted diffusion has also been described. [7] In our case, the concentric pattern was seen on all MR sequence and best demonstrated on post gadolinium scan similar to previously reported cases.

The exact neuropathological basis of BCS lesion is not well understood and has been a topic of debate. It has been proposed that these alternating bands may represent areas of demyelination and preserved myelin tissue. The reason for concentric demyelination in this variant of MS is unclear. Recently, it is proposed that demyelination in these lesions resemble hypoxia-like tissue injury. Proteins involved in tissue preconditioning are expressed at the edge of the lesion and this may explain the pattern of the lesions in BCS. [12] This is supported by the diffusion-weighted finding with restricted diffusion in the periphery of the lesion. [7]

Lucchinetti et al. [13] classified active MS lesions immunopathologically into four distinct subtypes: (1) patttern I and pattern II shows typical perivenular distribution of lesions and prominent lymphocyte and macrophage infiltration. Pattern II, however, also shows immunoglobulin deposition and complement activation; (2) pattern III shows unusual features where demyelination is not centered on inflamed vessels, instead a rim of preserved myelin is observed around the vessels. Also it shows signs of distal oligodendrogliopathy with features of apoptosis; and pattern IV lesions show massive oligodendrocyte degeneration in the periplaque white matter. Balo's concentric sclerosis lesion fits into pattern III (distal oligodendrogliopathy), characterized by microglial activation and oligodendrocyte apoptosis.

Corticosteroids have been shown to be effective in treating the neurological deficits associated with BCS. [3] Plasma exchange is reserved for steroid-resistant acute attacks of CNS demyelination. [14] Pathological subtype of MS may be the factor that predicts the response to plasma exchange therapy and only patients with evidence of antibody and complement deposition, i.e., pattern II, are likely to respond to plasma exchange therapy. [15]

Bilateral thalamic involvement is rare in BCS. Experience with this patient suggests that BCS should be considered in the differential diagnosis, especially in the presence of typical MR features. MRI allows for early in-vivo diagnosis, so that early and appropriate therapy could be commenced.

 » References Top

1.Canellas AR, Gols AR, Izquierdo JR, Subirana MT, Gairin XM. Idiopathic inflammatory-demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system. Neuroradiology 2007; 49:393-409.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Gray F, Leger JM, Duyckaerts C, Bor Y. Balo's concentric sclerosis: Lesions restricted to the pons. Rev Neurol (Paris) 1985;141:43-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Kreft KL, Mellema SJ, Hintzen RQ. Spinal cord involvement in Balo's concentric sclerosis. J Neurol Sci2009;279:114-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Karaarslan E, Altintas A, Senol U, Yeni N, Dincer A, Bayindir C, et al. Balo's concentric sclerosis: clinical and radiologic features of five cases. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 2001;22: 1362-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Li Y, Xie P, Fan X, Tan H. Balo's concentric sclerosis presenting with benign clinical course and multiple sclerosis like lesions on magnetic resonance images. Neurol India 2009;57:66-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
6.Gu J, Wang R, Lin J, Fang S. Concentric sclerosis: Imaging diagnosis and clinical analysis of 3 cases. Neurol India 2003; 51:528-30.  Back to cited text no. 6
  Medknow Journal  
7.Kavanagh EC, Heran MK, Fenton DM, Lapointe JS, Nugent RA, Graeb DA. Diffusion weighted imaging findings in Balo's concentric sclerosis. Br J Radiol 2006;79: e-28-31.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Nandini M, Gourie-Devi M, Shankar SK, Mustare VB, Ravi V. Balo's concentric sclerosis diagnosed intravitam on brain biopsy. Clin Neurol Neurosurg 1993;95:303-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Singh S, Kuruvilla A, Alexander M, Korah IP. Balo's concentric sclerosis: Value of magnetic resonance imaging in diagnosis. Australas Radiol 1999;43: 400-4.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Shankar SK, Rao TV, Srivastav VK, Narula S, Asha T, Das S. Balo's concentric sclerosis: a variant of multiple sclerosis associated with oligodendroglioma. Neurosurgery. 1989;25:982-6.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Moore GR, Berry K, Oger JJ, Prout AJ, Graeb DA, Nugent RA. Baló's concentric sclerosis: surviving normal myelin in a patient with a relapsing-remitting clinical course. Mult Scler 2001;7:375-82.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Stadelmann C, Ludwin S, Tabira T, Guseo A, Lucchinetti CF, Leel-Ossy L, et al. Tissue preconditioning may explain concentric lesions in Baló's type of multiple sclerosis. Brain 2005;128:979-87.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Lucchinetti C, Brück W, Parisi J, Scheithauer B, Rodriguez M, Lassmann H. Heterogeneity of multiple sclerosis lesions: implications for the pathogenesis of demyelination". Ann Neurol 2000;47:707-17.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Weinshenker BG, O'Brien PC, Petterson TM, Noseworthy JH, Lucchinetti CF, Dodick DW, et al. A randomized trial of plasma exchange in acute central nervous system inflammatory demyelinating disease. Ann Neurol 1999;46:878-86.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Zettl UK, Hartung HP, Pahnke A, Brueck W, Benecke R, Pahnke J. Lesion pathology predicts response to plasma exchange in secondary progressive MS. Neurology 2006;67:1515-6.  Back to cited text no. 15


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Volume mismatch indicates tumors in paramedial bithalamic diseases: a retrospective study
Lu Su, Peiyi Gao
Frontiers in Neurology. 2023; 14
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Magnetic resonance imaging of Baló’s concentric sclerosis: Literature review and presentation of two focused cases
Chiara Ballini, Francesco Destro, Paolo Garofalo, Jasjit S. Suri, Tommaso Ercoli, Antonella Muroni, Giancarlo Caddeo, Yang Qi, Giovanni Defazio, Luca Saba
Clinical and Experimental Neuroimmunology. 2021; 12(1): 54
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Fulminant variants of multiple sclerosis: Local experience at shifa international hospital, Islamabad, Pakistan
Ahmad, A. and Mehboob, N. and Khatri, I.A.L. and Siddiqui, M. and Khizar, J. and Jameel, M.
Rawal Medical Journal. 2013; 38(1): 26-31


Print this article  Email this article
Online since 20th March '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow