We studied prospectively the etiology, clinical presentation, and outcome of idiopathic intracranial hypertension in 36 patients (20 boys and 16 girls) aged 3.5 months to 14 years. The etiology was identified in 28 (77.7%) patients. The most common predisposing factor was middle-ear infection, followed by obesity. Of the 36 cases seen, 26 presented with the classic picture of headaches, papilledema, and elevated cerebrospinal fluid pressure; 8 children had intracranial hypertension in the absence of papilledema and 2 had fundoscopic evidence of papilledema with normal cerebrospinal fluid pressure initially. In four children resolution of intracranial hypertension occurred with removal of the causative agent or appropriate treatment of the underlying condition. In 8 of 17 patients intracranial hypertension resolved with acetazolamide therapy and in 22 of 24 patients it resolved with corticosteroids in combination with acetazolamide. Subnormal visual acuity, narrowing of visual fields, or both were present on the initial examination in 10 patients; 2 of them, who presented with loss of vision, have permanent visual impairment. Four additional patients presented a transient, mild impairment of visual acuity during treatment. Our study confirms the wide clinical spectrum and the difficulties encountered in diagnosis of idiopathic intracranial hypertension. A wide variety of etiologic associations should be investigated to provide definitive therapy. Loss of visual function is the only serious complication.
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