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Neuroimaging Clin N Am. 2010 Nov;20(4):597-617. doi: 10.1016/j.nic.2010.07.012.

Intracranial hypotension and intracranial hypertension.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of California at San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143-0628, USA.


Intracranial pressure (ICP) is the pressure within the intracranial space. Intracranial hypotension is a clinical syndrome in which low cerebrospinal fluid volume (CSF) results in orthostatic headache. Severe cases can result in nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and, rarely, decreased level of consciousness and coma. CSF opening pressure can be within the normal range in spontaneous intracranial hypotension. Imaging tests therefore play a key and decisive role in the diagnosis, as well as treatment, of intracranial hypotension. Intracranial hypertension occurs in a chronic form known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension, as well as in a large variety of neurologic and systemic disorders. Symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, and in severe cases, altered level of consciousness that can progress to coma and death. Direct measurements of CSF pressure through lumbar puncture (in idiopathic intracranial hypotension) or invasive ICP monitoring (in acute intracranial hypertension) are the key diagnostic tests. Imaging is used primarily to determine treatable causes of increased ICP, to assess for impending brain herniation, and to evaluate ventricular size.

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