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Isolated Increased Intracranial Pressure and Unilateral Papilledema in an Infant With Traumatic Brain Injury and Nondepressed Basilar Skull Fracture

Dunnick, Jennifer MD, MPH; Gesteland, Per MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001968
Illustrative Cases

Traumatic brain injury is one of the most common pediatric injuries; totaling more than 500,000 emergency department visits per year. When the injury involves a skull fracture, sinus venous thrombosis and the risk of resultant increased intracranial pressure (ICP) are a concern. We describe a previously healthy 11-month-old female infant with nondepressed skull fracture who developed increased ICP in the absence of intracranial changes on imaging. Funduscopic examination revealed unilateral papilledema, and opening pressure on lumbar puncture was elevated at 35 cm of H2O. Computed tomography scan demonstrated a nondepressed occipital bone fracture. However, further imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging with angiogram/venogram, did not reveal any intracranial abnormalities. In particular, there was no evidence of sinus venous thrombosis. Given her presentation and signs of increased ICP, she was started on acetazolamide and improved dramatically. A thorough literature search was completed but yielded no information on infants with increased ICP after nondepressed skull fracture in the absence of radiographic findings to suggest a cause for the increase in pressure. Trauma alone can lead to increased ICP secondary to several processes, although this is expected in moderate to severe head trauma. Our case demonstrates that increased ICP can be present in infants with mild traumatic brain injury in the absence of intracranial pathology. This should be considered in patients who present with persistent vomiting that is refractory to antiemetics.

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Jennifer Dunnick, MD, MPH, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah, 100 N Mario Capecchi Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84132 (e-mail:

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