Central venous obstruction (stenosis or occlusion) is common in patients with renal failure on hemodialysis and may be associated with intracranial hypertension (IH). Causes include vein injury from an endoluminal device, lumen obstruction from a device or thrombus, external vein compression, and high venous flow leading to vein intimal hyperplasia. A combination of high venous flow and central venous obstruction can lead to intracranial venous hypertension, impaired cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) resorption, and subsequent IH.
We conducted a search of the English literature using the Ovid MEDLINE Database and PubMed, with a focus on reports involving IH and central venous obstruction in the setting of hemodialysis. We reviewed CSF flow dynamics, the risk factors and causes of central venous obstruction, and the evaluation, management, and outcomes of central venous obstruction-induced IH.
Twenty-four cases of IH related to central venous obstruction in hemodialysis patients were identified. Twenty patients had headaches (83.3%) and 9 had visual symptoms (37.5%). The brachiocephalic vein was the most common site of stenosis or occlusion (20/24, 83.3%). Twenty-one patients (87.5%) had resolution of IH with treatment. Two patients died from complications of IH (8.3%).
Central venous obstruction–induced IH is likely underrecognized by clinicians and mimics idiopathic IH. Hemodialysis patients with IH should be screened with computed tomography venography of the chest. Optimal treatment is with vascular intervention or a CSF diversion procedure and can help prevent vision loss from papilledema or nervous system damage. Medical management may be appropriate in mild cases or as a bridge to definitive interventional treatment. Increased awareness among clinicians has potential to facilitate the timely diagnosis of this treatable condition with potential for good neurologic and visual outcomes.