Coma: A serious complication of spontaneous intracranial hypotension

Wouter I. Schievink, M. Marcel Maya, Franklin G. Moser, Stacey Jean-Pierre, Miriam A Nuno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


ObjectiveTo review our experience with patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH) and coma because, although disorders of consciousness may complicate SIH, no comprehensive study of such patients has been reported.MethodsUsing a prospectively maintained registry, we identified all patients with SIH in whom coma developed. Patients or their caregivers/families were contacted for follow-up. Patients were compared to a cohort of patients with SIH without coma.ResultsThe mean age of the 12 men and 3 women with SIH was 56.2 years (range 34-72 years) at the time of onset of coma. In one-third of patients, coma developed after craniotomy for subdural hematomas or for an unrelated intracranial pathology. Imaging showed brain sagging, including bilateral temporal lobe herniation, in all 15 patients and brainstem edema in 8 patients (53%). Overall, coma was reversible in 7 of 15 patients treated with epidural blood patches, in 2 of 4 treated with percutaneous glue injections, and in 6 of 6 treated surgically. Only 1 patient had residual neurologic deficit related to coma (Glasgow Outcome Scale score 4 [moderate disability]). Compared to patients with SIH without coma (n = 568), those with coma were older, more often were male, and more often underwent surgery.ConclusionsComa in SIH is rare, reversible, and invariably associated with brain sagging. Coma due to SIH may be refractory to the usual percutaneous procedures, and surgical closure of the CSF leak may be required to regain consciousness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1638-E1645
Issue number19
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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