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Precursor T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia presenting with bone marrow necrosis: a case report

Najmaddin SH Khoshnaw1*, Hisham A Al-Rawi2 and Beston F Nore3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Hematology, Hiwa Hematology-Oncology Center, Kurdistan Regional Government, Sulaimaniyah, Iraq

2 Department of Hematopathology, University of Sulaimani, Kurdistan Regional Government, Sulaimaniyah, Iraq

3 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Sulaimani, Kurdistan Regional Government, Sulaimaniyah, Iraq

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:349  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-349

Published: 11 October 2012



Bone marrow necrosis is a clinicopathological condition diagnosed most often at postmortem examination, but it is also seen during the course of malignancy and is not always associated with a poor prognosis. The morphological features of bone marrow necrosis are disruption of the normal marrow architecture and necrosis of myeloid tissue and medullary stroma. Non-malignant conditions associated with bone marrow necrosis are sickle cell anemia, infections, drugs (sulfasalazine, interferon α, all-trans retinoic acid, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and fludarabine), disseminated intravascular coagulation, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and acute graft versus host diseases. The malignant causes are leukemia, lymphoma and metastatic carcinomas. Herein we report the case of a patient with precursor T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and bone marrow necrosis at initial presentation.

Case presentation

A 10-year-old Kurdish boy was presented with generalized bone pain and fever of 1 month’s duration which was associated with sweating, easy fatigability, nose bleeding, breathlessness and severe weight loss. On examination, we observed pallor, tachypnea, tachycardia, low blood pressure, fever, petechial hemorrhage, ecchymoses, tortuous dilated veins over the chest and upper part of abdomen, multiple small cervical lymph node enlargements, mildly enlarged spleen, palpable liver and gross abdominal distention. Blood analysis revealed pancytopenia and elevated lactate dehydrogenase and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Imaging results showed mediastinal widening on a planar chest X-ray and diffuse focal infiltration of the axial bone marrow on magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral vertebrae. Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy examination showed extensive bone marrow necrosis. Immunophenotyping analysis of the bone marrow biopsy confirmed T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, as CD3 and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase markers were positive and CD10, CD20 and CD79a markers were negative.


The aggressive initial clinical presentation of our patient with huge mediastinal widening, development of superior vein cava syndrome and extensive bone marrow necrosis as initial signs made the diagnosis of the case difficult. The necrotic hematopoietic cells gave inconclusive results on the initial immunohistochemistry tests. The prognosis of bone marrow necrosis is better secondary to acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the pediatric age group compared with adults and those with underlying solid tumors. Despite the aggressive behavior at initial presentation, the patient responded to chemotherapy and necrosis disappeared at day 28 after the start of the therapeutic regimen.

Bone marrow necrosis; Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Bone marrow aspiration