Medical and surgical management of idiopathic intracranial hypertension in pregnancy

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2004 Sep;4(5):398-409. doi: 10.1007/s11910-004-0087-4.


Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a syndrome of increased intracranial pressure without hydrocephalus or mass lesion with elevated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure but otherwise normal CSF composition. It has been found that pregnancy occurs in IIH patients at about the same rate as in the general population, that IIH can occur in any trimester of pregnancy, that patients have the same spontaneous abortion rate as the general population, and that the visual outcome is the same as for nonpregnant patients with IIH. Although it is also stated that pregnant patients with IIH should be managed and treated the same way as any other patient with IIH, the use of imaging and drug contraindications do make a difference between the two groups. The treatment has two major goals, which are to preserve vision and to improve symptoms. The medical therapy includes weight control, nonketotic diet, serial lumbar punctures, diuretics, steroids, and certain analgesics. When medical therapy fails, surgical procedures should be considered. The two main procedures are optic nerve sheath fenestration and lumboperitoneal shunt. Anesthetic considerations in the pregnant patient are an additional factor when surgeries are contemplated. It is also noted that therapeutic abortion to limit progression of disease is not indicated and that subsequent pregnancies do not increase the risk of recurrence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fructose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Fructose / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / pathology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / surgery*
  • Prognosis
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / complications
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / drug therapy*
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / physiopathology
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / surgery*
  • Spinal Puncture
  • Steroids / therapeutic use
  • Topiramate
  • Vision Disorders / etiology


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Diuretics
  • Steroids
  • Topiramate
  • Fructose
  • Propranolol