Contributor: Gordon K. Klintworth
Cerebral edema is an extremely danger form of edema localized to the brain that can cause herniation of the brain through the tentorium cerebelli and foramen magnum. Because the brain is confined to the closed intracranial cavity and lacks significant space for expansion cerebral edema elevates the intracranial pressure, compresses the ventricles and compromises the blood supply to the brain. An important ocular manifestation is papilledema. Cerebral edema is divided into three main categories: vasogenic edema [edema - vasculogenic], cytotoxic edema [edema - cytotoxic], and hydrocephalic edema [edema - hydrocephalic]. Causes of vasculogenic edema of the brain include abscesses, encephalitis, hemorrhage, infarction and toxins (such as lead poisoning). A diffusely edematous brain is soft and heavier than normal. The gyri are flattened and the sulci are narrow.