Spontaneous intracranial hypotension in childhood and adolescence

J Pediatr. 2013 Aug;163(2):504-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.01.055. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Objectives: To describe the clinical and radiographic manifestations of spontaneous intracranial hypotension, a rarely diagnosed cause of headache in children.

Study design: This study included patients 19 years of age or younger evaluated between January 1, 2001, and June 30, 2012, for spontaneous intracranial hypotension.

Results: We evaluated 24 children (18 girls and 6 boys) with spontaneous intracranial hypotension (age at onset of symptoms: 2-19 years, mean 14.3 years). Twenty-three patients presented with orthostatic headaches and 1 presented with a nonpositional headache. A generalized connective tissue disorder was diagnosed in 54% of patients. Magnetic resonance imaging showed the typical changes of spontaneous intracranial hypotension in most patients (79%). Spinal imaging demonstrated a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak with or without an associated meningeal diverticulum in 12 patients (50%) and with dural ectasia or meningeal diverticula in 10 patients (42%), and it was normal in 2 patients (8%). Twenty-three patients initially underwent epidural blood patching, but 8 patients also were treated with percutaneous injections of fibrin glue and 11 patients eventually required surgical correction of the underlying CSF leak. There was no morbidity or mortality associated with any of the treatments, but 5 patients required acetazolamide for rebound high intracranial pressure headache. Overall, outcome was good in 22 patients (92%) and poor in 2 patients (8%).

Conclusions: Spontaneous intracranial hypotension in childhood is rare. Most patients can be treated effectively using a combination of epidural blood patching and percutaneous injections of fibrin glue or surgical CSF leak repair in refractory cases.

Keywords: CSF; CT; Cerebrospinal fluid; Computed tomography; MRI; Magnetic resonance imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypotension* / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Hypotension* / therapy
  • Male
  • Young Adult