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Pediatric Pseudotumor Cerebri Syndrome

Phillips, Paul H. MD; Sheldon, Claire A. MD, PhD

Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology: September 2017 - Volume 37 - Issue - p S33–S40
doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000000548
Original Contribution

Abstract: Idiopathic intracranial hypertension, otherwise known as primary pseudotumor cerebri syndrome (PTCS), most frequently occurs in obese women of childbearing age. However, children may be affected as well. This review will address recent findings regarding demographics, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric PTCS. Prepubertal children with primary PTCS have an equal sex distribution and less frequent obesity compared with adult patients. However, female gender and obesity are risk factors for primary PTCS in postpubertal children. Compared with adults, children with PTCS more frequently present with ocular motility deficits and more often have associated medical conditions that increase the risk of developing PTCS. Visual field testing may be unreliable, and the optimal modality to monitor visual function is unknown. MRI shows signs of elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) in children with PTCS similar to that of adults. It has now been established that elevated ICP in children ≤18 years old is greater than 25 cm H20 in nonobese, nonsedated children, and greater than 28 cm H2O in the remainder. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) may be used to distinguish pseudopapilledema from papilledema, monitor response to treatment in preverbal children, and identify patients with PTCS at risk for permanent visual loss. However, the precise role of OCT in the management of pediatric PTCS remains to be determined.

Department of Ophthalmology (PHP), Arkansas Children's Hospital, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Jones Eye Institute, Little Rock, Arkansas; and Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (CAS), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Address correspondence to Paul H. Phillips, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Arkansas Children's Hospital, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Jones Eye Institute, #1 Children's Way, Slot 111, Little Rock, AR 72202; E-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2017 by North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society