Remission of Pseudotumor Cerebri Syndrome after Initiating Pregnancy and Menarche: The Puzzling Role of Female Sex Hormones
22 October 2014
18 January 2015
13 July 2015 (online)
Pseudotumor cerebri syndrome (PTCS) is characterized by increased intracranial pressure with normal cerebrospinal fluid components and no detectable anomalies of the brain parenchyma on magnetic resonance imaging. Presenting signs and symptoms are heterogeneous, but they commonly include headache, visual disturbances (i.e., vision loss and/or double vision), and papilledema. The etiology is uncertain, but several underlying risk factors associated with PTCS have been identified, including obesity, endocrine abnormalities (e.g., hyperaldosteronism, Cushing syndrome, hyperandrogenism, and Addison disease), medications (e.g., tetracycline, recombinant growth hormone therapy), and viral infections (e.g., chickenpox). Patients with postpubertal PTCS are more typically females in their reproductive age, thereby making crucial (although not fully understood) the role of female hormones in the pathophysiology of this condition. We describe two female patients with PTCS who were followed up at our institution. They experienced prompt (and full) remission of headache and visual disturbances during the first trimester of pregnancy and within the first 2 months after the onset of menarche (i.e., at 20 and 11 years of age), respectively. We reviewed the literature searching for similar cases and hypothesized on the pathophysiologic (and still unclear) involvement of female sex hormones in regulating intracranial pressure, making some patients prone to PTCS.