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Updated 21 May 2015

Benign intracranial hypertension

Benign intracranial hypertension literally means "false brain tumour."

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Description

Benign intracranial hypertension, also called Pseudotumour Cerebri, literally means "false brain tumour." It is caused by increased pressure within the brain and is most common in young, obese females.

Symptoms

Symptoms of benign intracranial hypertension, which include headache, nausea, vomiting and pulsating intracranial noises, closely mimic symptoms of brain tumours, possibly because of the abnormal buildup of pressure within the brain.

Although the symptoms and findings associated with benign intracranial hypertension are similar to those that may occur due to certain brain tumours, no tumour is involved.

Prognosis

Once the diagnosis is made and the disorder is treated, benign intracranial hypertension generally has no serious consequences. If visual loss occurs, however, it may be permanent regardless of treatment. In some cases, pseudotumour cerebri recurs.

Treatment

Treatment is generally symptomatic. Pressure may be controlled by removing excess fluid with repeated spinal taps or by shunting. Steroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling of brain tissue. Drugs to reduce cerebrospinal fluid production or hyperosmotic drugs may be used to reduce fluid buildup.

 Reviewed by Dr Andrew Rose-Innes, Yale University School of Medicine, 2007

 
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