Pseudotumor Cerebri

Pseudotumor Cerebri is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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Emergency Central

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  • Buildup of CSF pressure without mass lesion or clear etiology
  • Also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension
  • 2 proposed mechanisms:
    • Increased abdominal pressure or intracranial venous stenosis may decrease venous drainage from the head
    • Vitamin A levels above the saturation of the liver can damage cell membranes in the arachnoid granulations
  • Associated with obesity
  • Average age of onset 30 yr
  • Female predominance (7:1)
  • Uncommon, ∼1–5 cases per 100,000


Proposed causative agents:
  • Obesity
  • Obstruction of intracranial venous drainage
  • Hypervitaminosis A
  • Steroids/steroid withdrawal
  • Tetracycline antibiotics
  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Hypertension
  • Recent weight gain
  • Chronic carbon dioxide retention with elevated intracranial pressure

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