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01.12.2018 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Journal of Medical Case Reports 1/2018

Acute blindness as a presenting sign of childhood endemic Burkitt’s lymphoma in Cameroon: a case report

Journal of Medical Case Reports > Ausgabe 1/2018
Brice N. Vofo, Gaelle V. F. Ngankam, Calypse A. Ngwasiri, Jeannine A. Atem, Leopold N. Aminde



Endemic Burkitt’s lymphoma is found predominantly in malaria holoendemic zones, typically in the tropical rain forest of Africa. It usually presents as an extra-nodal tumour in children and young adults with predilection for jaws and soft tissues of the abdomen. Clinical features depend on the primary tumour site, extent of the disease and histologic subtype. Acute blindness as a presentation sign is rare.

Case presentation

A 13 year old African female presented to our facility with a 3 week history of painful abdominal distention, and loss of vision of the left eye. On examination, there was a huge abdominopelvic mass, left breast mass and complete blindness of the left eye associated with mydriatic pupils non-responsive to light. An abdominal ultrasound showed a huge hypoechoic mass arising from the pelvis and protruding into the abdomen. The jaws, teeth and maxilla were all normal. A fine needle aspiration done was negative for malignant cells. A presumptive diagnosis of Burkitt’s lymphoma was made on clinical grounds and abdominal ultrasound findings. The patient was immediately placed on chemotherapy and responded well to treatment with remission of the tumour but persistence of left eye blindness.


Acute blindness can be the presenting sign of Burkitt’s lymphoma in a patient with neither jaw nor maxillary swelling. Primary healthcare providers in low income settings require a high index of suspicion when faced with such atypical presentations. This emphasizes the need for thorough physical examination, and when possible, the clinical utility of ultrasonography for suspicious abdominal masses in the absence of state-of the art diagnostic tools for early diagnosis and treatment, which is critical for survival and to improve quality of life.

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