Cerebral oedema (summary)

Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Cerebral oedema 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 oedema.

Reference article

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


  • pathophysiology
    • oedema within the brain parenchyma (white or grey matter)
      • result of a brain insult (ischaemia/infarction, infection, tumour etc)
    • two main types of cerebral oedema
      • cytotoxic
        • white and grey matter
        • usually the result of ischaemia/infarction
        • blurring of the grey-white junction
      • vasogenic
        • white-matter only
        • surrounds abscess or tumour
  • investigation
    • CT head: almost always first line intracranial imaging
    • MRI brain: may be helpful to further characterise an underlying lesion
  • role of imaging
    • confirm the presence of oedema
    • 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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Article information

rID: 55164
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and figures

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    Vasogenic oedema (breast cancer metastasis)
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    Cytotoxic oedema (left MCA stroke)
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    Vasogenic oedema (renal cell cancer metastasis)
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    Hydrocephalus with periventricular oedema
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