Pediatric Pseudotumor Symptoms and Diagnosis

Pseudotumor Cerebri Syndrome (PTC) Symptoms

Headache is the most common PTC symptom.

This head pain is:

  • Often severe.
  • Worse when lying down.
  • Progressive over time.

As pressure builds up, the headache can wake up your child in the middle of the night. Head pain may be worse first thing in the morning.

Eyesight symptoms of PTC can include:

  • "Black-outs" or "grey-outs" lasting between 5 and 15 seconds.
  • Double vision.
  • Blurred vision.

Ringing in the ears — described as a "whooshing sound" — is also common, most often when your child is lying quietly in bed.

Diagnosing Pediatric Pseudotumor

The diagnosis of PTC requires a thorough neuro-ophthalmological exam.

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has a multidisciplinary clinic that specializes in diagnosing and treating children with PTC.

A neuro-ophthalmologist and pediatric neurologist will assess your child together. Both specialists see children on the same day, which helps communications between the treatment team and our families.

Advanced imaging to detect PTC

We use state-of-the-art ocular imaging, such as ocular computed tomography and advanced visual field testing. These tests help with the diagnosis but also track your child's response to treatment.

Our neuro-radiologists have also designed a specific brain imaging protocol to detect signs of PTC.

To confirm a PTC diagnosis, your child will have a lumbar puncture.

This test involves inserting a small needle between the bones of the spine.

A lumbar puncture checks your child's:

  • Intracranial pressure.
  • Spinal fluid pressure.
  • Spinal fluid for infections or other problems.

Before your appointment with us, please be ready to discuss your child's health history and any symptoms.

To learn more about spotting pediatric pseudotumor symptoms or to make an appointment with the Brain Care Institute, call 412-692-5520.