Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri)

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Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri)


Can you explain pseudotumor cerebri?

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Pseudotumor cerebri is a condition characterized by increased pressure within the skull for which no cause can be determined (idiopathic). Doctors may also refer to it as idiopathic intracranial hypertension. The disorder may cause progressive, permanent visual loss. Pseudotumor cerebri occurs most often in women of childbearing age and in people who are overweight. It's not related to cancer.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Brief episodes of blurred vision
  • Brief episodes of pulsating sounds in the ears (pulsatile tinnitus)
  • Double vision
  • Vision loss
  • Swelling of the optic nerve heads in the back of the eye (papilledema)
  • Weakness of the muscle that moves the eye from side to side

A doctor may make a diagnosis by:

  • Neurological examination
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
  • Vision testing

Treatment may include:

  • Weight loss in overweight individuals
  • Medications to decrease cerebrospinal fluid production
  • Surgery to relieve intracranial pressure

Last Updated: 12/03/2004
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