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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 895-898

Cerebrospinal fluid hypovolemia: A case report of a red herring

Department of Neurological Surgery, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Aclan Dogan
Department of Neurological Surgery, Oregon Health and Science University, 3303 SW Bond Ave, Mail Code CH8N, Portland, Oregon 97230
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ajns.ajns_239_21

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Mild intracranial hypotension can lead to classically recognizable symptoms such as positional headaches, nausea, vomiting, and occasionally blurred vision. Less commonly, severe cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) hypovolemia can lead to a life-threatening condition that mimics intracranial hypertension, including transtentorial herniation and subsequent rapid neurologic decline. In this report we present a unique case of severe intracranial hypotension from a thoracic tumor resection that led to symptoms initially mistaken for intracranial hypertension, however ultimately correctly diagnosed as severe CSF hypovolemia that improved with dural repair. Additionally, we describe a rare angiography finding associated with CSF hypovolemia, kinking of the basilar artery. Here we report a 47-year-old female with neurofibromatosis Type 2 found to have a T3 intradural extramedullary tumor. She initially presented with urinary incontinence and gait/balance difficulty. She underwent thoracic laminectomies at T3 and T4 for the excision of the lesion. She was discharged on postoperative day 4. On postoperative day 9, she was noted to have nausea, vomiting, and decreased consciousness. Head computed tomography (CT) demonstrated acute downward herniation. She was transferred to our institution from a community facility obtunded and was intubated for airway protection. She was placed in the Trendelenburg position with immediate improvement, and declined every time her head was raised. Angiogram showed significant kinking of her basilar artery. A CT myelogram revealed a CSF leak from her recent thoracic surgery. She underwent exploration of her thoracic wound, and a ventral durotomy was repaired. Following this, she began to tolerate the head of bed elevations and recovered back to her neurologic baseline. A postoperative head CT angiography obtained before discharge showed improvement of her basilar kink. Mild intracranial hypotension is a common finding in patients who undergo procedures that enter the CSF space. Severe intracranial hypotension can easily be missed diagnosed as the signs on the exam are similar to patients with signs of intracranial hypertension. It is of paramount importance that the clinician recognizes brain sag, as the treatment algorithms are vastly different from that of intracranial hypertension leading to transtentorial herniation.

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