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  • Updated 08.02.2023
  • Released 08.07.2008
  • Expires For CME 08.02.2026

Cerebral edema in childhood



Limited literature exists regarding the unique features of cerebral edema in developing children. In this article, the authors describe the known mechanisms of cerebral edema, as well as etiologies for the development of cerebral edema in the pediatric population. They describe the existing literature, which underscores the challenge of managing cerebral edema in childhood. The role of dynamic changes in cerebral blood flow and brain compliance in the pathogenesis of cerebral edema across the pediatric age range is emphasized, in addition to the need for designing management strategies to mitigate against secondary brain injury.

Key points

• Cerebral edema can be a manifestation of vasogenic, cytotoxic, hydrostatic, or osmotic mechanisms.

• Various advanced monitoring and data analysis techniques allow for real-time measurements of intracranial pressure in addition to model-based indices, including brain compliance and cerebrovascular pressure reactivity.

Historical note and terminology

Pediatric clinicians and researchers continue to be challenged in recognizing how the developing brain responds differently than the mature brain to a variety of insults.

Brain edema often clinically manifests as encephalopathy but is often subclassified based on specific pathologic and radiographic findings. Even so, pediatric cerebral edema can be difficult to delineate categorically, as many patients follow a changing and progressive clinical course. This article describes commonly identified causes of cerebral edema in children; key pathophysiologic processes involved in the development of childhood cerebral edema; and monitoring and treatment strategies for cerebral edema in this population.

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ISSN: 2831-9125