Clinical Manifestations

Cerebral edema is associated with a wide spectrum of clinical disorders. Edema can either result from regional abnormalities related to primary disease of the central nervous system or be a component of the remote effects of systemic toxic-metabolic derangements. In either scenario, cerebral edema may be a life-threatening complication that deserves immediate medical attention. Several challenges surround the management of cerebral edema, because the clinical presentation is extremely variable. This variability reflects the temporal evolution of a diverse combination of edema types because most forms of cerebral edema have the capacity to generate other types. The specific clinical manifestations are difficult to categorize by type and are better described by precipitating etiology. In other words, it is essential to outline the prominent forms of edema that are present in a given clinical scenario. The location of edema fluid determines symptomatology. Focal neurologic deficits result from isolated regions of involvement, whereas diffuse edema produces generalized symptoms such as lethargy. The following sections address the clinical manifestations of cerebral edema that are associated with a diverse range of clinical disorders, first describing primary pathology of the central nervous system followed by the neurologic consequences of systemic disorders.

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