Cerebral Herniation

Cerebral herniation or brain herniation is a term that is used in medicine to refer to the displacement of brain structures.
Cerebral Herniation

Last update: 05 May, 2020

A cerebral herniation, or brain herniation is a displacement of tissues in the brain. This means the brain tissue along with the blood and lymphatic vessels and cerebrospinal fluid move in an abnormal way.

The development of a hernia in the brain can bring serious consequences for the patient. Depending on the affected zones, the patient can show different symptoms or signs of this change.

Most common symptoms of cerebral herniation

A brain.
The symptoms of this condition can vary greatly and depend on the affected area of the brain.

A patient with a brain hernia can show a series of symptoms, such as:

  • Tiredness, weakness, or general fatigue
  • Nausea, loss of consciousness, and, in the most serious cases, coma
  • A weak pulse. Also, an irregular heartbeat, with a high risk of suffering cardiac arrest. In which case, the heart isn’t able to keep beating, and the patient’s pulse stops.
  • Difficulty breathing normally. The respiratory cycle is weakened and doesn’t follow a defined pattern. If the health situation worsens, it’s possible for the patient to suffer respiratory arrest (to stop breathing).
  • Changes in the eyes that show pupil dilation. Additionally, some patients lose the ability to move one or both eyes.
  • Loss of functions normally processed by the brain stem area. In this way, certain reflexes like nausea, the reaction of the pupils to light, and even blinking are lost.

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Possible causes

Brain scan images.
An increase in intracranial pressure is the main trigger of the process of cerebral herniation.

At the moment, researchers haven’t been able to identify the process of brain hernias. However, some research indicates that this change appears due to an increase in pressure on an area of the brain.

Such an abnormal increase in pressure inside the brain would end up suddenly displacing other tissue.

On the other hand, a team of doctors has indicated the possible causes or triggers of a brain hernia. Therefore, among the most common causes are:

  • Development of brain tumors. This type of change can be caused by the brain itself, or can arise due to the presence of a tumor in another part of the body. In such a case, the cancer-causing cells could have moved from the organ to form a new tumor (metastasis).
  • Hemorrhage in the area. A hemorrhage causes an accumulation of blood in the brain due to a broken blood vessel.
  • Inflammation or swelling of the brain that can be caused by distinct conditions. For example, a stroke, or as a secondary effect of radiotherapy.
  • Deformities or congenital changes in the bone structure of the skull.
  • Presence of abscesses caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. Thus, pus and other elements accumulate in the brain region.
  • Formation of edemas. An edema is an abnormal accumulation of liquid in a region of the body. In this case, it can be triggered by many things, such as a brain trauma or stroke, among other causes.
  • Hydrocephalus.

Diagnosis of cerebral herniation

First, the team of specialists should check the symptoms that the patient has developed. To do that, they can do different physical tests along with a review of the patient’s clinical history.

Later, they should identify the causes of increased intracranial pressure. In general, they do tests to obtain internal images of the brain area. To this end, the most used techniques are x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed axial tomography (CT or CAT scan).

We hope this article has answered all of your questions, and don’t hesitate to go to your local specialists to get more information on this topic.

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