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Head pain is a common complaint in children and teens.
Most headaches result from benign causes. But sometimes head pain can be a sign of a serious disease like pediatric pseudotumor cerebri syndrome (PTC).
PTC, also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), is a serious neuro-ophthalmological disorder that can lead to vision loss.
PTC results from buildup of cerebral spinal fluid inside the skull, causing increased intracranial pressure. This pressure pushes on the optic nerves (which are responsible for vision), causing them to swell.
Because there's no actual tumor, it's called pseudotumor even though patients described symptoms like those of a brain tumor (a "false tumor").
PTC is four times more frequent in girls compared to boys, especially after puberty.
Obesity is the main risk factor for PTC.
Less often, PTC risk factors may include:
Certain health problems that may increase PTC risk include:
The most concerning complication of pediatric PTC is that it can lead to vision problems, including blindness.
Increased pressure on the optic nerve causes it to swell. The swelling can lead to loss of nerve signaling and restrict blood flow to the eyes.
Without treatment, PTC can cause lasting damage.
Sometimes it can lead to hydrocephalus, a condition in which spinal fluid builds up in the skull and needs drained.
At UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh:
To learn more about PTC or make an appointment for your child with the Brain Care Institute, call 412-692-5520.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.