Pseudo Tumors early treatment

FRESNO, Calif.

Taking pictures of her model pup is Lauren Ashley's passion, but this teen has to fight through daily pain to perform her photo shoots.

"She's had a headache since she was 5," Diane Ashley, Lauren's mother, told Ivanhoe.

Lauren takes 22 pills a day. She has had over 30 surgeries and has been in the hospital more than 50 times. It's a lot for a 16-year-old to deal with.

"I had to be admitted because I had suicidal thoughts...and everything was just really bad," Lauren told Ivanhoe.

Lauren has a condition known as Pseudotumor cerebri. It happens when there's too much pressure inside the skull. The result: severe headaches, dizziness and neck and back pain.

"The general consensus is we're either seeing more children with Pseudotumor, or we've gotten better at recognizing it," E. Steve Roach, M.D., a pediatric neurologist from Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine, told Ivanhoe.

It's called "Pseudo" tumor because it's often mistaken for a brain tumor, but scans show nothing's there. If the pressure build up is untreated, it can lead to blindness and other neurological problems.

"Unfortunately, one of the reasons children are overlooked is because people just don't think of it," Dr. Roach told Ivanhoe.

There are drugs to treat the condition. A shunt placed in a patient's head can drain extra spinal fluid in the skull. Optic nerve surgery can protect the eyes from pressure buildup.

Lauren had eye surgery and a shunt procedure. Her pain is much less, and she's thankful she has her sight. It's what lets her do what she loves.

Risk factors for Pseudotumor cerebri include obesity, taking certain meds and having a hormone imbalance, but in about half of kids, there is no known cause. The condition occurs in about one out of every 100,000 people.

Researchers say the exact prevalence in kids is unknown, but the increase in childhood obesity may be one reason it is becoming more common.

Erin Pope
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
(614) 562-1382

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