NINDS Pseudotumor Cerebri Information Page

Skip secondary menu

Synonym(s):   Benign Intracranial Hypertension, Intracranial Hypertension

Table of Contents (click to jump to sections)
What is Pseudotumor Cerebri?
Is there any treatment?
What is the prognosis?
What research is being done?


What is Pseudotumor Cerebri?
Pseudotumor cerebri literally means "false brain tumor." It is likely due to high pressure caused by the buildup or poor absorption of cerebrospinal fluid in the subarachnoid space surrounding the brain. The disorder is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50. Symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri, which include headache, nausea, vomiting, and pulsating intracranial noises, closely mimic symptoms of brain tumors.

Is there any treatment?

Some treatable diseases can cause raised intracranial pressure and symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri. A thorough physical examination is needed to rule out these disorders. If a diagnosis of pseudotumor cerebri is confirmed, hyperosmotic drugs may be used to reduce fluid buildup. Diuretics are commonly used to relieve pressure. Weight loss and cessation of certain drugs (including oral contraceptives and a variety of steroids) will lead to improvement. Therapeutic shunting, which involves surgically inserting a draining tube from the spinal fluid space in the lower spine into the abdominal cavity, may be needed to remove excess fluid and relieve pressure. Close, repeated ophthalmologic exams are required to monitor any changes in vision. Surgery may be needed to remove pressure on the optic nerve.

What is the prognosis?

The disorder may cause progressive, permanent visual loss in some patients. In some cases, pseudotumor cerebri recurs.

What research is being done?

The NINDS conducts and supports research on disorders of the brain and nervous system, including pseudotumor cerebri. This research focuses primarily on increasing scientific understanding of these disorders and finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.

Select this link to view a list of studies currently seeking patients.


Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation
6517 Buena Vista Drive
Vancouver, WA   98661
Tel: 360-693-4473
Fax: 360-694-7062

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 1968
(55 Kenosia Avenue)
Danbury, CT   06813-1968
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

Pseudotumor Cerebri Support Network
8247 Riverside Drive
Powell, OH   43065


Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892

NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Return to top

Last updated February 14, 2007