Medical Definition of Benign intracranial hypertension

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Benign intracranial hypertension: Increased pressure within the brain in the absence of a tumor. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting, pulsating intracranial noises, singing in the ears, double vision, loss of visual accuracy, and even blindness. It is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50. The cause is usually not known. The condition is associated sometimes with the use of tetracycline, nalidixic acid, nitrofurantoin, phenytoin, lithium, and amiodarone, and the overuse of vitamin A. Diagnosis is by brain imaging and lumbar puncture. Drugs to reduce cerebrospinal fluid production or hyperosmotic drugs may be used to reduce fluid buildup. Excess cerebrospinal fluid may be removed by repeated spinal taps, shunting or a type of surgery called optic nerve sheath fenestration that allows the excess fluid to escape. Steroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling of brain tissue. Benign intracranial hypertension is also called pseudotumor cerebri.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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