Brain herniation : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alternate Names : Herniation syndrome, Transtentorial herniation, Uncal herniation, Subfalcine herniation, Tonsillar herniation, Herniation – brain

Definition

A brain herniation is when brain tissue, cerebrospinal fluid, and blood vessels are moved or pressed away from their usual position in the head.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

A brain herniation occurs when something inside the skull produces pressure that moves brain tissues. This is most often the result of brain swelling from a head injury.

Brain herniations are the most common side effect of tumors in the brain, including:

  • Metastatic brain tumor
  • Primary brain tumor

A brain herniation can also be caused by:

  • Abscess
  • Hemorrhage
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Strokes that cause brain swelling

A brain herniation can occur:

  • Between areas inside the skull, such as those separated by a rigid membrane called the “tentorium”
  • Through a natural opening at the base of the skull called the foramen magnum
  • Through openings created during brain surgery

Pictures & Images

Brain

The major areas of the brain have one or more specific functions.

Brain hernia

Brain hernia

Brain hernia is a condition in which a portion of the brain is displaced because of increased pressure inside the skull. Increase in pressure results in progressive damage to brain tissue that may include life-threatening damage to the brainstem.


Review Date : 9/22/2008
Reviewed By : Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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