A Diagnosis of Choriocarcinoma in a Parturient Presenting With Intracranial Hemorrhage

Deborah A. Romeo, David A. Gutman, Joel Sirianni, Michael Marotta


Choriocarcinoma in a viable pregnancy is uncommon. The diagnosis can easily be missed when there is an explanation for the clinical symptoms that the cancer can mimic. We present the case of a primigravid patient whose choriocarcinoma was initially missed as a result of seemingly obvious explanations for her atypical history and disease manifestation. The patient is a Caucasian female at 30 weeks and 5 days of gestation who presented with persistent headaches and new-onset tonic-clonic seizures found on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to have a left intracranial hematoma, a 5 mm midline shift, and multiple foci of restricted diffusion. Cerebral angiogram demonstrated arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). The fetus was emergently delivered 1 week into hospitalization for non-reassuring fetal heart tracings in the setting of maternal lethargy secondary to continued AVM hemorrhage. The patients hospital course was complicated by four episodes of intracranial bleeding and edema requiring neurosurgical intervention. Three weeks after hospitalization she was discharged to a rehabilitation center, shortly after which placental biopsy demonstrated choriocarcinoma. MRI after readmission demonstrated extensive metastatic disease and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels were greater than 225,000 mIU/mL. Despite two additional neurosurgical procedures and extensive chemotherapy the patient died 3 months after initial presentation. Choriocarcinoma is extremely rare in viable pregnancies, but it should be considered when a parturient presents with intracranial bleeding. A high level of suspicion and serial serum hCG levels may lead to early and potentially life-saving multidrug chemotherapy. With a broader differential, earlier hCG measurement, and earlier treatment, our patient may have survived.

J Med Cases. 2022;13(4):151-154
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/jmc3898


Choriocarcinoma; Intracranial hemorrhage; Human chorionic gonadotropin; Gestational trophoblastic disease; Arteriovenous malformation

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