Pseudotumor cerebri is a condition that mimics symptoms of a brain tumor and literally means "false brain tumor." It is due to a buildup of pressure in the cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull. Pseudotumor cerebri can cause vision problems and severe headaches.
This condition is typically treated non-surgically through weight loss and medications. For severe cases of pseudotumor cerebri that don't respond to these treatments, surgery may be necessary.
Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts are used to drain excess fluid and relieve pressure on the brain. UPMC neurosurgeons use state-of-the-art image guidance to place VP shunts.
For optic nerve decompression, the preferred surgical treatment at UPMC is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement to the patient, and a faster recovery time.
To diagnose pseudotumor cerebri, doctors need to first rule out other potential causes of these symptoms, such as a brain tumor. Then, a spinal tap will be performed to document elevated spinal fluid pressure, and an exam of the back of the eye will be performed to confirm swelling of the optic nerves.
Your physician will ask you about any symptoms that you are experiencing. These symptoms may be similar to symptoms in patients with brain tumors. The most common symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri are:
- severe headache
- episodes of blurred vision or double vision
- vision loss
- whooshing noise in the ear
Weight loss, diuretics, and other medications may help to relieve the pressure and the resulting symptoms. In cases where the symptoms are severe and don't respond to weight loss or medications, surgical treatment may be required to relieve the pressure and to preserve vision.
Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts are placed using state-of-the-art image guidance to drain excess fluid and relieve pressure on the brain.
Optic nerve decompression may be performed using the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This approach allows surgeons to reach the optic nerve directly through the nose and sinuses without making incisions in the face or skull. EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement to the patient, and a shorter recovery time.