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Neurocrit Care. 2013 Apr;18(2):248-51. doi: 10.1007/s12028-012-9800-3.

Stroke and death due to spontaneous intracranial hypotension.

Author information

1
Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 8631 W. Third St., Ste. 800E, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA. schievinkw@cshs.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Spontaneous intracranial hypotension has become a well-recognized cause of headaches and a wide variety of other manifestations have been reported. Recently, several patients with asymptomatic spontaneous intracranial hypotension were reported. I now report two patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension who developed multiple arterial strokes associated with death in one patient, illustrating the spectrum of disease severity in spontaneous intracranial hypotension.

METHODS:

Medical records and radiologic imaging of the two patients were reviewed.

RESULTS:

Case 1. A 45-year-old man presented with an orthostatic headache. Neurologic examination was normal. MRI showed bilateral subdural fluid collections, brain sagging, and pachymeningeal enhancement. At lumbar puncture, the opening pressure was too low to record. He underwent two epidural blood patches with transient improvement of symptoms. His headaches progressed and a CT-myelogram showed a lower cervical CSF leak. Subsequently, periodic lethargy and confusion was noted and he then rapidly deteriorated. Examination showed coma (GCS: 4 [E1, M2, V1]), a fixed and dilated right pupil, and decerebrate posturing. Bilateral craniotomies were performed for the evacuation of chronic subdural hematomas. Immediate postoperative CT showed bilateral posterior cerebral artery infarcts and a recurrent right subdural hematoma, requiring re-evacuation. Postoperative examination was consistent with brain death and support was withdrawn.  Case 2. A 42-year-old man presented with a non-positional headache. Neurologic examination was normal. CT showed bilateral acute on chronic subdural hematomas and effacement of the basilar cisterns. MRI showed brain sagging, bilateral subdural hematomas, and pachymeningeal enhancement. Bilateral craniotomies were performed and subdural hematomas were evacuated. Postoperatively, the patient became progressively lethargic (GCS: 8 [E2, M4, V2]) and variable degrees of pupillary asymmetry and quadriparesis were noted. MRI now also showed multiple areas of restricted diffusion in the pons and midbrain, consistent with multiple infarcts. CT showed worsening subdural fluid collections with midline shift and increased effacement of the basilar cisterns. Repeat bilateral craniotomies were performed for evacuation of the subdural fluid collections. Neurologic examination was then noted to be fluctuating but clearly improved when lying flat (GCS: 10T [E4, M6, VT]). CT-myelography demonstrated an extensive cervico-thoracic CSF leak. An epidural blood patch was performed. The patient made a good, but incomplete, recovery with residual quadriparesis and dysphagia.

CONCLUSIONS:

Arterial cerebral infarcts are rare, but potentially life-threatening complications of spontaneous intracranial hypotension. The strokes are due to downward displacement of the brain and can be precipitated by craniotomy for evacuation of associated subdural hematomas.

PMID:
23196352
DOI:
10.1007/s12028-012-9800-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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