Headache and intracranial hypotension: neuroradiological findings

Neurol Sci. 2004 Oct;25 Suppl 3:S138-41. doi: 10.1007/s10072-004-0273-9.


The cardinal and classic features of postural headache and low cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure in intracranial hypotension may not dominate the clinical picture of the syndrome and may be associated with additional various neurological symptoms and signs. Reports of unusual clinical presentations continue to appear in the literature. Despite the considerable variability of the clinical spectrum, neuroradiological studies reveal more constant and characteristic features. Brain MRI findings include intracranial pachymeningeal thickening and post-contrast enhancement, subdural fluid collections and downward displacement or "sagging" of the brain. Spinal MRI findings include collapse of the dural sac with a festooned appearance, intense epidural enhancement owing to dilatation of the epidural venous plexus, and possible epidural fluid collections. In fact, spinal studies may demonstrate CSF leakage from spinal dural defects, which are considered the most common cause of the syndrome. Myelo-MR may suggest the possible point of CSF leakage, by demonstrating an irregular root sleeve; myelo-CT and radioisotope myelocisternography (RMC) are often needed to confirm the point of CSF leakage. Neuroimaging studies are, therefore, essential for suggesting and confirming the diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Headache / diagnostic imaging*
  • Headache / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypotension / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intracranial Hypotension / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed