Marchiafava-Bignami disease (MBD) is a rare condition characterized by demyelination of the corpus callosum. It is seen most often in patients with chronic alcoholism.
In 1903, Italian pathologists Marchiafava and Bignami described 3 alcoholic men who died after having seizures and coma. In each patient, the middle two thirds of the corpus callosum was found to be severely necrotic. Through the years, the medical literature accumulated hundreds of cases of MBD. Most of these cases were found in alcoholic men.
With the advent of computed tomography (CT) scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), more cases of MBD have been recognized than before. Analyses of such cases have revealed several patterns, including scattered lesions or cysts observed at intervals from the front to the back of the callosum. Nearby areas (eg, anterior commissure, posterior commissure, brachium pontis, other white-matter tracts) and the centrum semiovale are frequently involved.
In 2007, Celik et al reported a case of a nonalcoholic patient with acute MBD that was associated with a gynecologic malignancy. The authors raised the question of a possible paraneoplastic MBD. That same year, Rusche-Skolarus et al described a case of MBD in a postoperative, nonalcoholic female who presented with an encephalopathy.