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Pseudotumor Cerebri: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment

Oct 31, 2023

Pseudotumor Cerebri: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment

The condition known as pseudotumor cerebri is characterized by an increase in intracranial pressure without an evident cause. Another term for it is idiopathic intracranial hypertension.

The symptoms are similar to brain tumor symptoms. Increased intracranial pressure can cause the optic nerve to expand, which can result in vision loss. Medication can often reduce this pressure and headache, while surgery may be necessary in certain cases.

Pseudotumor cerebri affects both adults and children, however, it is more common in obese women who are of childbearing age.

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Causes Of Pseudotumor Cerebri

The cause of pseudotumor cerebri is unknown. If a cause is found, the condition is referred to as secondary intracranial hypertension rather than idiopathic.

Your brain and spinal cord are surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid, which keeps these vital organs safe. This fluid is produced by the brain and leaks into the bloodstream gradually, usually maintaining a constant pressure inside the brain.

The increased intracranial pressure associated with pseudotumor cerebri may be due to a problem with this absorption system.

Symptoms Of Pseudotumor Cerebri 

Among the signs and symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri are:

  • Frequent, severe headaches that may begin behind your eyes
  • A whooshing sound that mimics your heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of vision
  • Momentary blindness episodes that affect one or both eyes and pass quickly being unable to focus aside from dual perception seeing flashes of light
  • Neck, shoulder, or back pain

Sometimes, months or years after treatment, resolved symptoms may reappear.

Risk factors Of Pseudotumor Cerebri

The following variables have been connected to pseudotumor cerebri:

  • Obesity
  • Tetracycline, a hormone for development
  • An excessive amount of vitamin A
  • Health problems

Secondary intracranial hypertension has been linked to the following diseases and disorders:

  • Addison's condition
  • Hemorrhage
  • Blood-clotting circumstances
  • Renal disease
  • Lupin Polycystic Syndrome of the Ovaries
  • Sleeping apnea
  • Inactive parathyroid glands

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Diagnosis Of Pseudotumor Cerebri

To diagnose you, your physician will take a physical examination, prescribe tests, review your medical history, and evaluate your symptoms.

Visual Examinations

If your ophthalmologist suspects pseudotumor cerebri, they will look for a particular type of swelling that affects the optic nerve in the back of your eye. Ophthalmologists are medical professionals who specialize in treating illnesses of the eyes.

In addition blind spot, which is situated in each eye where the optic nerve and retina meet, a visual field test will be conducted to look for blind spots in your vision. Not only will your eyes be photographed, but you will also likely undergo an imaging test (optical coherence tomography) to measure the thickness of the layers in your retina.

Brain Imaging

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan could be recommended by your doctor. These tests assist in ruling out diseases that can present with similar symptoms, such as blood clots and brain tumors.

Lumbar puncture

Your doctor might advise a lumbar puncture to examine the spinal fluid in your body and measure the pressure inside your head. To get a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for laboratory testing, a specialist will insert a needle between the two vertebrae in your lower back during this examination.

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Treatment Of Pseudotumor Cerebri

The goal of treating pseudotumor cerebri is to reduce symptoms and avoid vision loss.

If you're overweight, your doctor could recommend a low-sodium weight-loss plan to help with your symptoms. Working with a nutritionist could help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Certain people benefit from weight-loss regimes and gastric surgery.


  • Drugs for glaucoma. One of the first glaucoma medications usually attempted is acetazolamide. This medication may reduce the amount of cerebrospinal fluid produced as well as the symptoms. Possible side effects include tingling in the fingers, toes, mouth, and kidney stones.
  • Various diuretics. Sometimes acetazolamide is combined with another diuretic, which promotes urine production and reduces fluid retention when it is ineffective when taken alone.
  • Medications for migraines. Sometimes these drugs help relieve the terrible headaches that often accompany pseudotumor cerebri.


If your vision worsens, you may need surgery to reduce intracranial pressure or the pressure around your optic nerve.

The optic nerve sheath is fenestrated. During this procedure, the surgeon makes a window in the membrane around the optic nerve to allow additional cerebrospinal fluid to pass through.

The majority of the time, vision stabilizes or improves. Most patients report advantages to both eyes when this treatment is applied to one eye. This is not usually a successful surgery and can exacerbate vision problems.

Shunt for spinal fluid. During a separate kind of surgery, your surgeon may place a shunt a long, thin tube into your brain or lower spine to assist in draining extra cerebrospinal fluid. To expel the extra fluid, the tube is buried under your skin and released through a shunt in your abdomen.

Shunts are usually reserved for extreme cases where no other course of action appears to be helping the patient. Shunts can clog, thus extra steps are frequently needed to keep them working. Infections and headaches with low pressure are among the complications.

Venous sinus stenting- Rarely is this relatively new method applied. To improve blood flow, a stent is inserted into one of the head's bigger veins.

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