Pseudotumor Cerebri

    / Key Opinion Leaders / Santa Barbara, CA , --  

    Pseudotumor Cerebri is the medical term to describe the pressure in the skull caused by a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid. Also known as Idiopathic intracranial hypertension, Pseudotumor Cerebri translates to 'false brain tumor' because it mimics brain tumor symptoms despite no tumor presence. 

    Pseudotumor Cerebri is a rare chronic condition affecting only one in 100,000 people in the United States, with obese women of childbearing age most at risk.

    Symptoms of the disease can differ in severity. Some people experience minimal symptoms, whereas others may suffer from vision problems due to pressure on the optic nerve.

    Treatment also varies, ranging from medication and weight loss to surgery. Although the prognosis is suitable for most patients, the specific cause of Pseudotumor Cerebri remains unknown. Therefore, scientists continue striving to discover how and why the condition occurs.

    Common Pseudotumor Cerebri Symptoms

    The common symptoms of Idiopathic intracranial hypertension are similar to those of a brain tumor.  Patients might experience:

    • Headaches
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness 
    • Vomiting
    • Double vision
    • Episodes of blindness in one or both eyes
    • Loss of vision
    • Pain in the neck, shoulder, or back
    • Tinnitus
    • Light flashes (Photopsia)

    Dull, throbbing headaches are among the most frequent symptoms of Idiopathic intracranial hypertension. The most severe is vision problems resulting from pressure on the optic nerve. In this case, doctors may perform surgery to release the tension in the skull.

    What Causes Pseudotumor Cerebri?

    Idiopathic intracranial hypertension occurs when there is too much cerebrospinal fluid in the skull, either because the body produces an excess or it does not absorb as it should, creating pressure. 

    The exact cause of idiopathic intracranial hypertension is unknown. However, certain risks associated with the condition may increase the likelihood of its development. These risks include:

    • Being a woman of childbearing age (between 20 to 44)
    • Obesity

    In addition, research suggest that other Pseudotumor Cerebri risk factors could include:

    Pseudotumor Cerebri Diagnosis

    A person with a pseudotumor may undergo several examinations before doctors reach a diagnosis. These exams include:

    • Eye Exam: Doctors may refer someone exhibiting symptoms to an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. They will examine the optic nerves and the eye's responses during this assessment. 
    • CT Scan or MRI: An MRI or CT scan produces brain images, which help diagnose a brain condition. For example, a CT scan or MRI can rule out a brain tumor and blood clots when diagnosing idiopathic intracranial hypertension. 
    • Spinal Tap: Also known as a lumbar puncture, a spinal tap involves inserting a needle into the lower back to obtain a fluid sample. Doctors then analyze the fluid in a lab to determine the presence of a pseudotumor. 

    Pseudotumor Cerebri Treatment

    While pseudotumors are chronic, different treatments can help ease and eliminate symptoms. These treatments include: 

    • Medication: Doctors may prescribe medication depending on the symptoms. Commonly prescribed medications include migraine medications, diuretics, and glaucoma drugs. 
    • Weight Loss: Treatment may include a weight loss program, as obesity increases a person's odds of Idiopathic intracranial hypertension. This option could also mean seeing a dietician and may require gastric surgery in severe cases. 
    • Surgery: Pressure on the optic nerve can cause vision problems in patients with Pseudotumor Cerebri. To treat vision disturbances, doctors may perform surgery to alleviate this pressure. 

    Ultimately, treatment depends on the symptoms that a patient suffers. Surgery for a brain condition can be invasive and will not always be necessary; therefore, doctors are careful when choosing treatment methods. If symptoms are minimal and there is no impact on the patient's sight, doctors may not recommend surgical intervention. 

    Pseudotumor Cerebri Researchers

    Highly respected and educated scientists perform clinical trials and research to understand this brain condition. With their expertise, pseudotumor treatments are becoming increasingly sophisticated. 

    Below are some of the leading minds working toward a better understanding of pseudotumors:

    Deborah I. Friedman

    Professor Friedman is a Professor of Neurology and Ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. She has decades of experience with this brain condition, with numerous published studies, including 'Pseudotumor Cerebri,' 'The Pseudotumor Cerebri Syndrome,' and 'Pseudotumor Cerebri Presenting as Headache.' Her extensive research into Idiopathic intracranial hypertension led to a greater understanding of the condition and how to treat it.

    Erica B. Lee

    Dr. Lee works at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Nebraska, and has undertaken significant research in pseudotumors. In her publication 'Evidence of Diplopia in Children's Headache Drawings Helps to Differentiate Pseudotumor Cerebri from Migraine,' she writes about the study in which she compared drawings by children with pseudotumors and children with migraines.

    James J. Corbett

    Professor Corbett is the Chairman Of Neurology at the University Of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. In his publication 'Role of vitamin A metabolism in IIH: Results from the Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Treatment Trial', he researched how Vitamin A and retinoids affect the development of idiopathic intracranial hypertension. This study also considered how acetazolamide improves visual field function and cerebrospinal fluid pressure.

    Among many others, these researchers have influenced the understanding of Pseudotumor Cerebri. As a result of their efforts and the work of other experts in this area of medicine, doctors can diagnose, manage, and treat this brain condition.

    Pseudotumor Cerebri Prognosis

    The prognosis of Pseudotumor Cerebri can vary. Around one in 10 patients may experience permanent vision problems, especially if the condition goes untreated. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to reverse permanent injury to the optic nerves; instead, treatment focuses on preventing further sight loss. In this instance, surgery may be necessary to lessen the tension on the optic nerves caused by the cerebrospinal fluid buildup.

    To treat other common symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, and nausea, medical professionals may prescribe medication and suggest weight loss to obese patients. Again, doctors may recommend surgery for patients suffering from severe symptoms.

    Despite being a chronic condition, some patients experience minimal complaints. Whether or not patients show symptoms, established treatments are available to relieve and manage the ailment, helping enhance their quality of life.

    Typically, treatment lasts six to 12 months. In most cases, this condition goes away, and patients fully recover; however, it can return if cerebrospinal fluid accumulates again. Patients must see their doctor for follow-up visits and regular eye checkups to spot disease recurrence early on.

    The more medical professionals understand this brain condition, the better they can detect, manage, and treat it, improving the lives of Pseudotumor Cerebri patients. As researchers continue to study Idiopathic intracranial hypertension, those in the medical field expect patient prognosis to improve.


Recent articles about Pseudotumor Cerebri

How Is Pseudotumor Cerebri Diagnosed?

[ PUBLICATION ] ... of pseudotumor cerebri, it was not until the study by Foley2 that numerous other possible and unexplained causes of pseudotumor cerebri were described and that the condition was given the ...
Known for Pseudotumor Cerebri | Intracranial Pressure | Lumbar Puncture | Cerebrospinal Fluid

Pseudotumor Cerebri In Children

[ PUBLICATION ] ... describe pseudotumor cerebri in children. METHODS: We reviewed the medical records of children less than 18 years old who were diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri between 1977 and 1997. We ...
Known for Pseudotumor Cerebri | Visual Acuity | Intracranial Pressure | Preschool Female Humans

Pseudotumor Cerebri And Hypothyroidism

[ PUBLICATION ] ... and pseudotumor cerebri was monitored with serial thyroid function tests and CSF pressure determinations during levothyroxine sodium replacement therapy. Following normalization of the ...
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Pseudotumor Cerebri In Patients With Cushing’s Disease

[ PUBLICATION ] ... of pseudotumor cerebri during the course of correcting the hypercortisolism of Cushing's disease. METHODS: We describe the clinical, biochemical, and neuro-ophthalmologic findings in a ...
Known for Pseudotumor Cerebri | Cushings Disease | Intracranial Hypertension | Literature Review

Pseudotumor Cerebri Secondary To Intermediate-Dose Cytarabine Hcl

[ PUBLICATION ] ... of pseudotumor cerebri associated with the administration of intermediate-dose cytarabine. CASE SUMMARY: An 11-year-old Hispanic boy with acute myeloblastic leukemia developed symptoms of ...
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Childhood Pseudotumor Cerebri: Clinical And Intracranial Pressure Response To...

[ PUBLICATION ] ... with pseudotumor cerebri. The role of repeated lumbar cerebrospinal fluid pressure monitoring in evaluating the response to therapy is also demonstrated. Continuous 1-hour lumbar ...
Known for Pseudotumor Cerebri | Intracranial Pressure | Acetazolamide Furosemide | Treatment Children

Pseudotumor Cerebri In Lyme Disease: A Case Report And Literature Review

[ PUBLICATION ] . Pseudotumor cerebri is an unusual presentation of Lyme disease. The case of an 8-year-old girl with pseudotumor cerebri secondary to acute neuroborreliosis is reported. She presented with ...
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Pseudotumor Cerebri And Optic Nerve Sheath Decompression

[ PUBLICATION ] ... with pseudotumor cerebri with visual loss despite medical treatment and to suggest a treatment algorithm on the basis of these data. DESIGN: Retrospective, noncomparative, interventional ...
Known for Pseudotumor Cerebri | Optic Nerve | Sheath Decompression | Visual Acuity

Pseudotumor Cerebri Associated With Obstructive Nephropathy

[ PUBLICATION ] ... with pseudotumor cerebri associated with renal disease. The pathogenesis of increased intracranial pressure in this clinical setting is unclear, but may be mediated by one or more of the ...
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Pseudotumor Cerebri After Surgical Remission Of Cushing’s Disease

[ PUBLICATION ] ... CONTEXT: Pseudotumor cerebri has only been described after successful surgery for Cushing's disease (CD) in case reports. We sought to establish the incidence and timing of its occurrence, ...
Known for Pseudotumor Cerebri | Surgical Remission | Symptoms Treatment | Lumbar Puncture

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