Pseudotumor Cerebri

Pseudotumor cerebri (Latin for “false brain tumor”) is caused by a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in your skull. Pseudotumor cerebri is most common in women who are obese and younger than age 45. It’s also been linked to certain medications and chronic diseases.



Pseudotumor cerebri symptoms are similar to brain tumor symptoms, even though it’s not actually a tumor. 

Those symptoms may include:

  • Blurred, dimmed or double vision
  • Brief episodes of blindness lasting just a few seconds (in one or both eyes)
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Worsening of your peripheral (side) vision
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Ringing in your ears


To help diagnose pseudotumor cerebri, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist – a doctor who specializes in caring for your eyes. He or she will look for swelling in your optic nerve and check your vision for any blind spots.

In addition, your doctor may order tests, including a CT scan, MRI scan or a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to check your cerebrospinal fluid.

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Treatment Options

Dr. Amin Kassam, vice president for Neurosciences at Aurora Health Care, explains the Expanded Endonasal Approach, a minimally invasive surgery technique.

Treatment for pseudotumor cerebri may include:

  • The Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA): Using this minimally invasive technique, your surgeon can do an optic nerve sheath fenestration – a small cut in the membrane that surrounds your optical nerve, allowing the excess fluid to drain out. EEA results in a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery than traditional surgery and causes no scarring.
  • Ventriculoperitoneal (spinal fluid) shunt: A long thin tube is implanted into the fluid space within your brain to help drain the excess fluid. This treatment is usually not used unless other options have failed.
  • Medication

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