Pseudotumor cerebri and its medical treatment

Grant T. Liu*, Nicholas J. Volpe, Steven L. Galetta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Pseudotumor cerebri is an idiopathic disorder characterized by papilledema and elevated intracranial pressure without a mass lesion. Most patients are female and young and are either overweight or have a history of recent weight gain. Other disease states, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, and drugs, such as tetracycline, have also been associated with the development of pseudotumor cerebri. The mechanism is unclear, but is likely related to decreased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) resorption. Almost all patients have headache, but the greatest morbidity of the disorder is visual loss related to optic disc swelling. Common radiographic findings in pseudotumor cerebri include an empty sella, dilation of the optic nerve sheaths and elevation of the optic disc. The CSF, aside from elevated opening pressure, is normal without evidence of infection or inflammation. Treatment of patients with no or mild to moderate visual loss is primarily medical, with acetazolamide as the first-line agent. Acetazolamide decreases CSF production. Furosemide and corticosteroids are secondary choices. Optic nerve surgery is reserved for patients with severe visual loss or progression in visual deficits despite medical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-574
Number of pages12
JournalDrugs of Today
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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