The syndrome of pseudotumour cerebri and idiopathic intracranial hypertension

Curr Opin Neurol. 2011 Feb;24(1):12-7. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e328341f94a.


Purpose of review: Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a condition in which raised intracranial pressure is associated with a high body mass index, and in those societies in which the prevalence of obesity is increasing the disorder is of increasing importance. It is one cause of the syndrome of pseudotumour cerebri but the cause and the link with a rise in body weight are not understood. Furthermore the treatment of the more severe, sight-threatening cases is controversial.

Recent findings: A major theme in recent years has been an attempt to identify the underlying mechanism of IIH. Some theories - such as the dural sinus stenosis theory - seem to ignore the relationship with weight gain; others have proposed a direct link between obesity and raised intracranial pressure through a specific fat distribution in the body; others through the production of lipokines; and yet others have suggested a converse causation with raised intracranial pressure giving rise to obesity. Uncontrolled case series continue to demonstrate the success of interventions such as cerebrospinal fluid diversion procedures, venous sinus stenting and bariatric surgery but there are no level 1 clinical trials.

Summary: Interest in IIH is increasing and currently generating numerous studies but there is no consensus view on either cause or management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetazolamide / therapeutic use
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Constriction, Pathologic
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Intracranial Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Intracranial Hypertension / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Obesity / complications
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / diagnosis
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / drug therapy
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / physiopathology*
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / surgery
  • Syndrome
  • Weight Loss


  • Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors
  • Acetazolamide