Cerebral edema
E-mail this E-mail this     Print Print this    
Cerebral Edema, put simply, is the presence of a large amount of water in the spaces of the brain. It may be brought about by a handful of neural injuries and other conditions that affect the brain and its properties. If not treated immediately, Cerebral Edema may cause death.


In fact, Cerebral Edema is the main cause of morbidity in patients who have had brain injuries due to head trauma, stroke, and other conditions. Patients who are brought for head injuries are tested and observed immediately for the possibility of Cerebral Edema. Since it is such a serious condition and that early detection could make a big difference, doctors would not want to take any chances in spotting this ailment.

When unnecessary volume of water invades the skull, the brain becomes swollen. This condition could lead to several ugly possibilities, which include severe brain damage and ultimately, death. The swelling of the brain would compromise its very own blood flow and cause an increased pressure inside the skull.

Detecting Cerebral Edema at a glance is pretty difficult. Yet, when the symptoms start to become visible, the patient may well suffer from the severity of his condition. That is why it is important for any medical professional to be trained at assessing the patient’s possible contraction of Cerebral Edema when someone is brought for head injuries, no matter how simple the trauma may be.


The earliest indicator of Cerebral Edema is the patient’s consciousness of his surroundings and his self. The level of a patient’s consciousness may differ at any given time that Cerebral Edema sets in. It is good practice for family members to watch patients who have had head injuries so that any slight change in the patient’s behavior and personality could be observed. Further examination would be administered to establish if Cerebral Edema is indeed present.

Other signs of Cerebral Edema may include confusion, nausea, lack of coordination, numbness, and dizziness. If any of those symptoms manifest following a head injury or trauma, you should seek medical attention immediately. The bad effects of Cerebral Edema may progress rapidly. And since it is quite dangerous and can be life threatening, you would not want to find that you have it when it is too late.


There are many different factors that could cause Cerebral Edema. The most imminent cause is head trauma due to injuries, concussions, and even the Shaken Baby Syndrome. Other times, Cerebral Edema may also be brought bout by infectious disorders such as Mumps, Malaria, Typhus, Kawasaki Disease, and Reyes Syndrome among others. Cerebral Edema may also be caused by Hypertension and Eclampsia.
cerebral edema
Image: Cerebral Edema

Basically, there are four distinctive types of Cerebral Edema. There’s Vasogenic Cerebral Edema, Cytotoxic Cerebral Edema, Osmotic Cerebral Edema, and Interstitial Cerebral Edema. Such types are separated by the conditions that caused the disease and the treatments required for it.


Vasogenic Cerebral Edema is mostly caused by the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. This frequently happens in the occurrence of head traumas, tumors, ischemia, and hypertension. In Vasogenic Cerebral Edema, proteins and fluids invade the extracellular space, causing the swelling in the brain in the process.

Cytotoxic Cerebral Edema, meanwhile, does not involve the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. In fact, in this condition, the BBB is intact. However, the abnormalities in the sodium and potassium pumps in the membrane causes sodium and water retention. Reyes Syndrome, hypothermia, cardiac arrest, and early stroke among others mostly cause this particular type.

Osmotic Cerebral Edema pertains to an abnormal pressure that creeps into the brain, allowing for water to flow. This commonly occurs in cases of hyponatremia and hemodialysis.

Lastly, Interstitial Cerebral Edema is the swelling of the brain caused by the rupture of the CSF-brain barrier. This is very similar to the Vasogenic type but it mostly occurs as an effect of hydrocephalus. The other difference between Interstitial and Vasogenic Cerebral Edema is that, the fluid that invades the extracellular space in the case of the latter contains protein.


There are many different types of treatments available for patients with Cerebral Edema. In simplest terms, the treatments involved are usually about getting rid of the excess fluid that invaded the brain area, relieving the pressure in the skull, and getting to the bottom of the problem to ensure that a recurrence is kept in check. If the root cause of Cerebral Edema is not treated, the problem happens over and over.

The use of drugs to relieve the swelling and to express the excess amount of fluid that have invaded the brain area are mostly the first line of treatment for Cerebral Edema. Osmotic Diuretic such as Mannitol has been found effective in pulling out the excess fluids from the extracellular space onto the bloodstream then into the kidney to be excreted out in the body.

There are severe cases of Cerebral Edema, however, that requires surgery. This is considered as the last resort. Breaking open the brain area to relieve the pressure and take out the excess fluids is quite dangerous.


In case of Cerebral Edema, prevention is all about taking care. Preventing accidents that could lead to injuries that might intervene in your brain function and health is all that you need to escape the dangerous repercussions of Cerebral Edema.

Also, bear in mind that in the case of this medical condition, early detection is the life and blood of your recovery. Do not take for granted any slight changes in your behavioral and cognitive patterns. Once you suspect Cerebral Edema, call your doctor immediately. He will then perform further examination that will lead to the conclusion and therefore, allow you for the most effective treatment.

Fluid retention may seem to be a simple health problem. But when it occurs in the brain, as is Cerebral Edema, you should be on all fours to get treatment fast. Otherwise, you risk yourself at contracting a more severe brain problem or worse, facing death eye-to-eye.
  Member Comments

Medication commonly used for these disease:

drugs Cerebral edema drugs