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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Pseudotumor cerebri

Other Names for this Disease
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
  • Intracranial hypertension, idiopathic
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What is pseudotumor cerebri?

How might pseudotumor cerebri be treated?

What is pseudotumor cerebri?

Pseudotumor cerebri is a condition that affects the brain. The name of this condition literally means "false brain tumor." It is likely due to high pressure within the skull caused by the buildup or poor absorption of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Pseudotumor cerebri is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50. Symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri mimic symptoms of large brain tumors, such as headache, nausea, vomiting, and pulsating sounds within the head.[1] Pseudotumor cerebri also cause a rare condition called empty sella syndrome.[2]
Last updated: 12/15/2011

How might pseudotumor cerebri be treated?

Obesity, other treatable diseases, and some medications can cause raised intracranial pressure and symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri. A thorough medical history and physical examination is needed to evaluate these factors. If a diagnosis of pseudotumor cerebri is confirmed, close and repeated ophthalmologic exams are required to monitor any changes in vision.[1] Medications such as corticosteroids, glycerol, acetazolamide, and furosemide may be used to reduce fluid buildup and to relieve pressure.[1][3] Weight loss and cessation of certain drugs (including oral contraceptives, tetracycline, and a variety of steroids) may lead to improvement. Surgery may be needed to remove pressure on the optic nerve. Therapeutic shunting, which involves surgically inserting a tube to drain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the lower spine into the abdominal cavity, may be needed to remove excess CSF and relieve CSF pressure.[1] 

An article from eMedicine Journal provides detailed information regarding the treatment of pseudotumor cerebri at the following link. You may need to register to view the article, but registration is free.

Last updated: 12/15/2011

  1. NINDS Pseudotumor Cerebri Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Web site. November 2010; Accessed 12/15/2011.
  2. Empty sella syndrome. MedlinePlus. 2009; Accessed 12/15/2011.
  3. Dugdale DC, Hoch DB. Pseudotumor cerebri. MedlinePlus. February 2011; Accessed 12/15/2011.