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The Fake Tumor

The word pseudo means fake or pretending to be, so the term pseudotumor cerebri, refers to a brain tumor that is not actually be found to be a tumor. The symptom to this conditions is pressure within the skull but no evidence of a tumor can be found. There is no blocked drainage, no infection and no fluid surrounding the brain. Even without any of these symptoms, the patient will still have a headache, dizziness and buzzing in the ears as well as nausea, double vision or blurred vision.

Treatment for this condition is aimed at the specific cause which could be to perform a lumbar puncture to relieve the pressure within the brain and thus prevent any vision troubles.  Fluid or salt restriction might be advised to the patient as well as medications given.  Shunting might be needed to release pressure from the build up of spinal fluid or surgery to lessen pressure on the optic nerve.

The cause for this pseudotumor is unknown but it is thought that some medications will raise the risk for developing this condition. These medications are sulfa drugs, birth control pills, phenytoin, tamoxifen, lithium, nalidixic acid and steroids. There are some other conditions that seem to be associated with this false tumor and they are: an iron deficiency, being obese or overweight, pregnancy, hypothroidism, Cushing’s disease and chronic kidney failure. Too much or too little vitamin A in the body is another condition that is thought to be associated with this disease. The diagnosis comes from a physical exam and signs that include an increased head size, swelling of the small area at the back of the eye, and in babies, they will show a bulging anterior fontanelle because their cranial sutures have not yet closed. Tests that your doctor can perform to make a diagnosis is a CT scan, MRI, eye exam that includes visual field testing and a spinal tap. For some patients, this condition will disappear all by its self with a period of about six months.  Ten to twenty percent of these people will have a recurrence of their symptoms and a small amount will get worse over time and eventually loose their sight. If you feel that you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, call your doctor and have some tests done. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension is another name for this condition as it refers to the high pressure in the fluid that is surrounding the brain.  

 

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