Oligodendroglioma Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jan 06, 2022
  • Author: Caroline T Goldin, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen A Berman, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Like other intracranial space-occupying lesions, oligodendrogliomas present with focal cerebral dysfunction, depending on location, and rarely as increased intracranial pressure.

Most oligodendrogliomas present as a single lesion in the cerebral hemispheres. Typically, they arise from the white matter, but they can be cortical or subcortical; they rarely are found in deep gray structures, and occasionally they may be primarily intraventricular. Rarely, they can occur infratentorially or in the spinal cord. Leptomeningeal spread can occur as a late manifestation of the disease. Occasionally they may be multifocal, like other gliomas.

As these tumors are slow growing, they often are clinically silent for many years. Many are found incidentally during head imaging for other concerns. The most common presenting symptom is seizure,. The seizure can be focal or can secondarily generalize into a convulsive seizure.

Occasionally patients with oligodendrogliomas are brought to medical attention for headache, symptoms of increased intracranial pressure, or focal neurological deficits.

Tumors that arise within the ventricles may cause obstructive hydrocephalus and are more likely to disseminate through the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).



Physical findings depend on the location of the tumor. Due to the slow growing nature of these tumors, patients may be asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis and have a normal neurological examination.

Frontal, parietal, and temporal lobe tumors most commonly present with seizures. Seizures may be focal or may secondarily generalize. Frontal tumors may present with personality changes, executive dysfunction, or hemiparesis. Parietal tumors may present with hemisensory loss, sensory neglect, or visuospatial impairment. Occipital lobe tumors may present with visual field deficits.

Rare intraventricular oligodendroglioma may present with signs and symptoms of increased intracranial pressure such as headache, visual disturbance, and papilledema.

Posterior fossa oligodendrogliomas are uncommon. However, cases are described in children and may present with cerebellar ataxia and increased intracranial pressure.



In general, there is no known cause for oligodendrogliomas. Rarely, familial cancer syndromes such as Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome increase a person’s risk of development of gliomas.



Closely observe the patient for any complications resulting from continuing treatment, such as radiation necrosis from radiation therapy or neuropathy from chemotherapy.