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Am J Ophthalmol. 1999 Feb;127(2):178-82.

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension in prepubertal pediatric patients: characteristics, treatment, and outcome.

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Division of Ophthalmology, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, USC School of Medicine, California, USA.



To report the features of idiopathic intracranial hypertension in prepubertal children, with emphasis on presentation, treatment, and outcome.


We retrospectively reviewed the charts of all patients 11 years and younger diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension at two university-affiliated medical centers. Inclusion critera included papilledema, normal brain computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, cerebrospinal fluid pressure greater than 200 mm H2O, normal cerebrospinal fluid content, and a nonfocal neurologic examination except for sixth nerve palsy. Patients with concomitant systemic illness were excluded.


Of the 10 patients, four were girls and six were boys. Only one patient was obese. The most common presenting symptoms were stiff neck (four patients) and diplopia (four patients), and the most common presenting sign was strabismus (eight patients). Six of eight patients with strabismus had abducens nerve palsy (four bilateral), one patient had a sensory exotropia, and one had a comitant esotropia. Visual field abnormalities were present in 11 of 13 eyes (85%), and severe visual loss resulting in no light perception vision occurred in one eye of one patient. Nine patients were treated medically, four with a combination of prednisone or dexamethasone and acetazolamide and five with acetazolamide alone. One patient in this group also required a lumboperitoneal shunt. One patient was treated with lumbar puncture only. Resolution of papilledema occurred rapidly in all patients, with a mean of 4.7 +/- 2.6 months. Resolution of sixth nerve palsy also occurred rapidly in four of six patients in a mean of 1.6 +/- 1.2 months. One patient required strabismus surgery for persistent esotropia and one was lost to follow-up.


Idiopathic intracranial hypertension in prepubertal children is rare and is different than the disease in adults. In our series, there appeared to be no sex predilection, and obesity was uncommon. Children are likely to present with strabismus and stiff neck rather than headache or pulsatile tinnitus. Both papilledema and sixth nerve palsy resolved rapidly with treatment. However, children can sustain loss of visual field and visual acuity despite treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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