What is intracranial hypertension?
Increased pressure in the brain—known as intracranial hypertension—is a fairly common effect of head or brain trauma. But it can also be indicative of other potentially harmful health conditions. If left untreated, intracranial hypertension can lead to irreversible damage to the optic nerve including loss of vision, as well as brain ischemia, stroke/hemorrhage, severe brain damage, and even death.
Symptoms of intracranial hypertension include the following:
- Vomiting without nausea
- Intermittent consciousness
- Swollen optic disc (papilledema) or optic nerve
- Back pain
- Dilated pupils
- Slow heart rate in children
Causes of intracranial hypertension
There are certain direct causes of intracranial hypertension including head trauma, traumatic brain injury (TBI), lack of oxygen to the brain, acute liver failure, subdural or epidural hematomas, contusions, abscesses, and tumors. Additional conditions that can lead to intracranial hypertension are known as secondary causes, and include obstructive sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease, and lupus. In other cases, there is no specific explanation for the increase in pressure around the brain—this is known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension.
Identifying intracranial pressure injuries
Responsible physicians should be aware of the symptoms of intracranial hypertension, especially in patients who suffered head or brain trauma. Patients who present with key indicators of intracranial hypertension often have other underlying conditions that are more serious. If a doctor fails to perform appropriate tests or seek the cause of intracranial hypertension and the condition worsens as a result, he or she could face malpractice charges.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.