Hydrocephalus requiring urgent external ventricular drainage in a patient with diabetic ketoacidosis and cerebral edema: case report

Neurosurgery. 1997 Apr;40(4):836-8; discussion 838-9. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199704000-00035.


Objective and importance: Neurological deterioration, typically attributed to cerebral edema, is a rare but life-threatening complication in the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). We report the case of a child with DKA who became comatose but demonstrated acute obstructive hydrocephalus, instead of cerebral edema.

Clinical presentation: An 11-year-old male patient presented with new-onset insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and DKA. He was initially responsive but, after several hours of treatment, became unresponsive, with dilated pupils and decerebrate posturing. Cranial computed tomographic scanning demonstrated obstructive hydrocephalus resulting from focal cerebellar and brain stem edema.

Intervention: The patient was initially managed with medical treatment but ultimately required urgent ventricular drainage to arrest a progressive herniation syndrome. To our knowledge, this report describes only the second such case reported and the first requiring urgent ventriculostomy.

Conclusions: These observations emphasize the importance of recognizing hydrocephalus as a potentially reversible cause of coma in DKA and of initiating prompt neurosurgical intervention, if warranted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Brain Edema / etiology*
  • Child
  • Coma / etiology
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / complications*
  • Emergencies
  • Encephalocele / etiology*
  • Encephalocele / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / etiology
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery*
  • Male
  • Ventriculostomy*