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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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Your Question

How is pseudotumor cerebri treated? What is the prognosis for patients with this condition?

Our Answer

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What is the prognosis for individuals with pseudotumor cerebri?

The main concern with pseudotumor cerebri is the risk of worsening vision, so treatment aims to monitor and protect vision.[1] The prognosis of this condition is quite variable: in some cases, the condition disappears on its own; in up to 20% of affected individuals, symptoms may return; and a small number of patients have symptoms that slowly get worse and may lead to blindness.[2] It has been shown that regaining weight that was previously lost is associated with a return of symptoms.[3]

Because symptoms may return, individuals with pseudotumor cerebri are encouraged to have regular eye examinations to check for changes in vision.[4]  Additionally, individuals who have undergone shunting procedures are recommended to visit a neurologist or neurosurgeon regularly to ensure that the shunt continues to work properly.[4][1]  More than half of individuals who have undergone this type of procedure experience occasional headaches following the procedure.[5]
Last updated: 11/28/2014

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 in order to determine the best approach to treatment of this condition.

If a diagnosis of pseudotumor cerebri is confirmed, careful and repeated eye (ophthalmologic) exams are required to check for any changes in vision.[6] Medications such as corticosteroids, glycerol, acetazolamide, and furosemide may be used to reduce fluid build-up and relieve pressure.[6][2] Losing weight and stopping  certain medications (including oral contraceptives, tetracycline, and a variety of steroids) may lead to improvement. Surgery may be needed to remove pressure of fluid 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.[6] 

An article from eMedicine Journal provides detailed information regarding the treatment of pseudotumor cerebri at the following link: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1143167-treatment.  You may need to register to view the article, but registration is free.

Last updated: 11/28/2014

References
Other Names for this Disease
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
  • Intracranial hypertension, idiopathic
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.