Chronic cerebellar hemorrhage in spontaneous intracranial hypotension: association with ventral spinal cerebrospinal fluid leaks: clinical article

J Neurosurg Spine. 2011 Oct;15(4):433-40. doi: 10.3171/2011.5.SPINE10890. Epub 2011 Jul 8.


Object: Spontaneous intracranial hypotension is an important cause of new-onset daily persistent headache. Cerebellar hemorrhage has been identified as a possible feature of spontaneous intracranial hypotension. The authors reviewed the MR imaging studies from a group of patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension to assess the presence of cerebellar hemorrhage.

Methods: Medical records and radiological images were reviewed in 262 cases involving patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension who had undergone MR imaging of the brain as well as spinal imaging.

Results: Chronic cerebellar hemorrhages were found in 7 (2.7%) of the 262 patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension. These hemorrhages were found in 7 (19.4%) of the 36 patients with a ventral spinal CSF leak and in none of the 226 patients who did not have such a CSF leak (p < 0.0001). The degree of hemosiderin deposits was variable, ranging from mild involvement of the cerebellar folia to widespread superficial siderosis. Only the 1 patient with superficial siderosis had symptoms due to the hemorrhages. The time period between the onset of symptoms due to spontaneous intracranial hypotension and MR imaging examination was significantly longer in those patients with cerebellar hemorrhage than in those with a ventral spinal CSF leak and no evidence for cerebellar hemorrhage (mean 19.6 years vs 2.3 months, p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Chronic cerebellar hemorrhage should be included among the manifestations of spontaneous intracranial hypotension. The severity is variable, but the hemorrhage generally is asymptomatic. The underlying spinal CSF leak is ventral and mostly of long duration.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Rhinorrhea / complications*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Rhinorrhea / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / complications*
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / physiopathology
  • Intracranial Hypotension / etiology*
  • Intracranial Hypotension / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies