CT scan reveals man's 'missing brain' is large intracranial air pocket

Doctors and radiologists were shocked to see the results from an 84-year-old Northern Ireland man's CT scan after he reported frequent falls. What looked like a missing brain turned out to be a large air pocket compressing surrounding brain tissue inside the man's skull, according to a recent article from Live Science.  

The patient initially told doctors that, in addition to having frequent falls, he felt weak in his left arm and leg. Also, his physical exam appeared normal, according to the article. 

However, after undergoing a CT scan, doctors discovered a 3.5-inch air pocket in the right frontal lobe of the patient's brain (a pneumatocele), a benign bone tumor where the skull separates the brain from the nasal cavity and signs that the patient previously experienced a small stroke due to the air pocket.  

The patient's physician, Finlay Brown, MD, a general practitioner in Belfast, told Live Science that he had never seen a case like this tied to symptoms of falling. Brown published the case to emphasize "the importance of thorough investigation of even the most common of symptoms," according to the article. The study was published online Feb. 27 in the journal The BMJ.  

Brown explained the patient decided to be treated with a statin and anti-clotting medication to lower his risk of having another stroke. He has been doing well since.