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Spontaneous intracranial hypotension presenting with progressive cognitive decline
  1. Sanaz Shoja Gharehbagh1,
  2. Birthe Krogh Rasmussen1,
  3. Emil Smilkov2 and
  4. Rigmor Højland Jensen3
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Nordsjaellands Hospital, University of Copenhagen, DK, Hilleroed, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Neuroradiology, DK, Glostrup, Denmark
  3. 3Danish Headache Center, Department of Neurology, University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet-Glostrup, DK, Glostrup, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rigmor Højland Jensen; rigmor.jensen{at}


A 63-year-old woman presented with headache, progressive somnolence, neurocognitive decline and urinary incontinence through a year. Medical history was unremarkable except for hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia. Neurological examination was normal. Brain MRI showed findings typical for spontaneous intracranial hypotension (subdural fluid collection, pachymeningeal enhancement, brain sagging) and pituitary tumour. The patient’s complaints improved dramatically but temporarily after treatment with each of repeated targeted as well as non-targeted blood patches and a trial with continuous intrathecal saline infusion. Extensive work up including repeated MRI-scans, radioisotope cisternographies, CT and T2-weighted MR myelography could not localise the leakage, but showed minor root-cysts at three levels. Finally, lateral decubitus digital subtraction dynamic myelography with subsequent CT myelography identified a tiny dural venous fistula at the fourth thoracic level. After surgical venous ligation, the patient fully recovered. Awareness of spontaneous dural leaks and their heterogeneous clinical picture are important and demands an extensive workup.

  • memory disorders
  • headache (including migraines)
  • neuroimaging
  • pain (neurology)

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  • Contributors The authors have all contributed to the case SSG contributed with planning, conduct, reporting, conception and design, and acquisition of data. ES contributed with acquisition of imaging data and interpretation of imaging data and the report. BKR contributed with planning, conduct, reporting, conception and design, and acquisition of data. RHJ contributed with planning, reporting, conception, acquisition of data analysis and interpretation of data.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.