Pseudotumor cerebri

Alternative Names

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension; Benign intracranial hypertension

Definition of Pseudotumor cerebri

Pseudotumor cerebri is a process affecting the brain that appears to be — but is not — a tumor. It is often reversible.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The condition occurs more frequently in women than men, particularly in premenopausal obese women. It is rare in infants.


The major symptom is increased pressure within the skull (increased intracranial pressure). There is no evidence of tumor, infection, blocked drainage of the fluid surrounding the brain, or any other cause.

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam. Signs of this condition include:


Treatment must be directed at the specific cause of the pseudotumor.

Expectations (prognosis)

Sometimes the condition disappears on its own within 6 months. About 10-20% of persons have their symptoms return. A small number of patients have symptoms that slowly get worse and lead to blindness.


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 3/26/2009

Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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