Intracranial Hypertension (Pseudotumor Cerebri) Clinic :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Intracranial Hypertension Clinic

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension, sometimes called pseudotumor cerebri, is a condition in which the cerebro-spinal fluid (the fluid inside the skull) is not able to drain normally. When no underlying cause is detected for the elevated pressure, the condition is said to be “idiopathic.” The term “pseudotumor” is sometimes used because the extra fluid mimics the effects of a brain tumor by pushing against the brain.

Common symptoms of intracranial hypertension are headache and vision problems. The most common cause of this condition in children and adults is obesity. However, many patients have the condition even if they are not overweight.

The Intracranial Hypertension Clinic at Nationwide Children's Hospital is the first in the country to provide comprehensive care for children with this condition. Our multidisciplinary group includes physicians from Neurology, Ophthalmology, and the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition. As needed, patients may also be referred to Neurosurgery and Endocrinology.


Chloe wasn't experiencing any symptoms when she went to her eye doctor for her regular exam, but her doctor took pictures of the back of her eyes as routine protocol. The pictures illustrated an alarming situation: Chloe had abnormal pressure in her optic nerves behind her eyes. This is her story.

Intracranial Hypertension Symptoms

  • Headache is the most common symptom reported by patients with intracranial hypertension.

  • Vision problems or vision loss is the most concerning symptom.

Diagnosing Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

We suggest patients be evaluated in our clinic when a child has severe headaches and optic nerve edema (swelling of the nerve that brings information from the eye to the brain). Patients may need to have the following:

  • Physical exam

  • Lumbar puncture

  • MRI of the brain

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Treatment

Treatment options often include:

  • Dietary changes

  • Medications

  • Surgery (in severe cases)

Physician Referral Information
The Intracranial Hypertension Clinic accepts referrals from primary care physicians and pediatric specialists from the United States and internationally. To make a referral, there are three options:

Refer a Patient

Neurology accepts referrals from U.S. and international primary care physicians and pediatric specialists.

Refer by Phone: (614) 722-6200 or 1-877-722-6220

Refer by Fax: (614) 722-4000

Refer a Patient Online »

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000