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Diseases & Conditions

Pseudotumor Cerebri

(Also Called 'Benign Intracranial Hypertension')

What is Pseudotumor Cerebri?

Pseudotumor cerebri 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). The disorder is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50. Symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri, which include headache, nausea, vomiting, and pulsating sounds within the head, closely mimic symptoms of large brain tumors.

Is there any treatment?

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, repeated ophthalmologic exams are required to monitor any changes in vision. Drugs may be used to reduce fluid buildup and to relieve pressure. Weight loss through dieting or weight loss surgery 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 CSF from the lower spine into the abdominal cavity, may be needed to remove excess CSF and relieve CSF pressure.

What is the prognosis?

The disorder may cause progressive, permanent visual loss in some patients. In some cases, pseudotumor cerebri recurs.

What research is being done?

The NINDS conducts and supports research on disorders of the brain and nervous system, including pseudotumor cerebri. This research focuses primarily on increasing scientific understanding of these disorders and finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.

Organizations

Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation

6517 Buena Vista Drive
Vancouver, WA 98661
Phone: 360.693.4473
Fax: 360.694.7062

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT 06813-1968
Phone: 203.744.0100
Voice Mail: 800.999.NORD (6673)
Fax: 203.798.2291

Source: National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 11/1/2010...#6097

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