Revision 4 for 'Cerebral edema (summary)'

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Cerebral edema (summary)

Cerebral edema describes the collection of additional fluid within the white matter of the brain. It is the brain's response to an insult and may take one of two broad forms: vasogenic (white matter) and cytotoxic edema.

Reference article

This is a summary article; read more in our article on cerebral edema.


  • pathophysiology
    • edema within the brain parenchyma (white or grey matter)
      • result of a brain insult (ischemia/infarction, infection, tumor etc)
    • two main types of cerebral edema
      • cytotoxic
        • white and grey matter
        • usually the result of ischemia/infarction
        • blurring of the grey-white junction
      • vasogenic
        • white-matter only
        • surrounds abscess or tumor
  • investigation
    • CT head: almost always first line intracranial imaging
    • MRI brain: may be helpful to further characterize an underlying lesion
  • role of imaging
    • confirm the presence of edema
    • determine the likely underlying cause
    • determine whether there is sequela from any mass effect
  • radiographic features
    • swelling and mass effect
    • CT
      • reduced attenuation on CT
    • MRI
      • T1: hypointense
      • T2: hyperintense
  • treatment and prognosis
    • treatment of the underlying cause

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