Navigation Links
Obesity Behind Rise of 'Phantom' Brain Tumors in Children
Date:5/7/2010

Pressure build-up within skull causes chronic pain, experts say

FRIDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- At the age of 5, Lauren Ashley began complaining that "her eyes hurt."

An ophthalmologist who examined her suspected a brain tumor because of swelling of the optic nerve, which sends information from the retina to the brain.

"Looking back, we were so devastated by the news," said her mother, Diane Ashley. "What we didn't know then was that what was in store was, in some ways, worse. And I am in no way making light of brain tumors."

Lauren, now 15 and living in Gahanna, Ohio, was later diagnosed with a severe case of pseudotumor cerebri, a painful condition in which pressure inside the head builds for no apparent reason, potentially causing blindness.

Once found mostly among adults, pseudotumor cerebri seems to be rising among children -- and doctors say rising rates of obesity may be to blame. About two-thirds of children diagnosed with the condition are overweight or obese, although one-third, like Lauren, are of normal weight when diagnosed.

"There are no good data on how many children have it, but we believe the reason we seem to see so much of it these days is the increase in obesity among children," said Dr. E. Steve Roach, chief of neurology and vice chair of pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Nationwide is currently treating about 80 children with the disorder, Roach said. The spike in children with the condition led Roach and his colleagues to establish what's believed to be the nation's first pseudotumor cerebri clinic geared toward children. The clinic, which just opened, will have an ophthalmologist, neurologist and endocrinologist or weight-loss specialist to provide comprehensive treatment.

Pseudotumor cerebri, sometimes called "phantom tumor," got its name decades ago. Patients would come to the doctor with headaches and swelling of the optic nerve, Roach said. Pressure would be elevated inside the head, leading doctors to conclude it must be a tumor, only to operate and find nothing.

Diagnosis got easier in the late 70s and 80s with the advent of brain scans such as CT and MRIs, but the name stuck. The condition is also sometimes referred to as idiopathic intercranial hypertension, meaning elevated pressure within the skull with no known cause.

Normally, the brain makes cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles, or spaces within the brain, which then circulates where it's needed. Some of the fluid ends up on the outside of the brain, providing a cushion between it and the skull, while some flows to the spinal cord.

In a normal head, the fluid is constantly being made and reabsorbed to maintain the proper pressure inside a closed space, Roach explained.

Pseudotumor cerebri is believed to be tied to a deficiency in the brain's ability to absorb the fluid. This causes pressure to build and in some people this brings intense, unrelenting pain.

In some, the condition gets better with medications or by losing weight, Roach said. More serious cases can be treated with surgery -- either a shunt placed in the lumbar region of the spine to drain excess fluid into the abdominal cavity and relieve the pressure or, if that doesn't work, neurosurgeons may implant a shunt in the brain to drain excess fluid.

Vision loss occurs when fluid gets pushed into the optic nerve, causing it to swell and damage the axons (nerve branches). To save the eyesight, opthalmologists can cut a "window" in the optic nerve to relieve pressure.

"The loss of vision is very gradual. It shows up first in the peripheral vision," Roach said. "Kids don't always recognize they are losing vision until it's almost gone. We have a nice treatment for this, but one of the things you have to do is treat it early."

Lauren still faces almost constant pain, even though she takes seven prescriptions a day, has undergone more than 30 surgeries to replace shunts that have stopped working, and been admitted to the hospital more than 50 times.

"I've never had a normal life," Lauren said. "For as long as I can remember, I've had these awful headaches that feel like somebody is sticking a knife through my head."

Because she doesn't look sick, sometimes friends and even medical professionals don't understand the seriousness of the condition. "They say, 'You're not bald. You're not in a wheelchair. What's wrong with you? You look perfectly fine,'" Lauren said.

She goes to school for two classes and completes the rest with the help of an at-home tutor. She enjoys going to youth group at her church when she's feeling up to it, and keeping in touch with other teens with her condition on Facebook.

Diane Ashley, along with other families of children with the condition, have started a foundation, I.H. Gray Matters (ihgraymatters.org) to raise awareness and money to help families travel to the new clinic.

"The more people get to know what this is and the more doctors know what it is, the more research will get done," Diane Ashley said. "Maybe one day other kids won't have to suffer like Lauren does."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on pseudotumor cerebri.



SOURCES: Lauren and Diane Ashley, Gahanna, Ohio; E. Steve Roach, M.D., chief, neurology, and vice chair, pediatrics, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Gladstone scientists identify target that may reduce complications of obesity
2. Inflammation marker related to obesity is elevated in patients with pancreatic cancer
3. Doctors miss major cause of infertility and obesity
4. Cost to patients barrier to counseling for obesity and smoking
5. New study shows effectiveness of MEND program in prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity
6. NIH launches program to develop innovative approaches to combat obesity
7. Childhood obesity alone may increase risk of later cardiovascular disease
8. Link between obesity and enhanced cancer risk elucidated
9. Obesity ups cancer risk, and heres how
10. Obesity Action Coalition Calls on Insurers and Employers to Increase Access to Childhood Obesity Treatments Based on Recent United States Preventative Task Force Recommendations
11. Federal Panel Urges Obesity Screening for Kids Ages 6 and Up
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... Texas (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl ... this week that explains one of the most popular and least understood books in ... like cryptic and puzzling descriptions that have baffled scholars for centuries. Many have tossed ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... “America On The Brink”: the Christian history of the ... is the creation of published author, William Nowers. Captain Nowers and his wife, ... he spent thirty years in the Navy. Following his career as a naval ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... products to meet the demand of today’s consumer and regulatory authorities worldwide. From ... probiotic experts and tested to meet the highest standard. , These products ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... delivery system that we intend to develop to enable prevention of a major ... to severe hearing loss, especially in pediatric patients. For cisplatin, hearing loss is ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... On Saturday, October 21, the Health & Wellness ... Moonlight to raise money for the American Heart Association Heart Walk. Teams of up ... work together to keep their treadmills moving for 5 hours. Treadmills will start at ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/25/2017)... , Sept. 25, 2017  EpiVax, Inc., ... vaccine design, and immune-engineering today announced the launch ... the development of personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines. EpiVax ... provided exclusive access to enabling technologies to the ... MBA will lead EpiVax Oncology as Chief Executive ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... 19, 2017   ZirMed Inc ., a recognized leader ... that it has been ranked #1 by its users for ... Rankings 2017 User Survey. ZirMed was recognized as the top-ranked ... and medical centers over 200 beds and holds one of ... user survey history. ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... , Sept. 12, 2017  Consumer reviews on the independent ... as the number one company for hearing aids, ranking it ... fifteen other brands. ... Hearing Named #1 by Consumers For Hearing Aids ... Embrace Hearing is an online store that provides high performance, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: