Brain Sagging Dementia–Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outcome: A Review

Brain sagging dementia (BSD), caused by spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH), is a rare syndrome that is only recently recognized, mimicking the clinical findings of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). Being aware of its signs and symptoms is essential for early diagnosis and treatment in this potentially reversible form of dementia. Our objective was to identify cases of BSD in the literature and present its clinical characteristics, diagnostic workup, treatment options, and outcome. The review was reported according to PRISMA guidelines and registered with the PROSPERO database (CRD42020150709). MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychINFO, and Cochrane Library were searched. There was no date restriction. The search was updated in April 2021. A total of 983 articles were screened and assessed for eligibility. Twenty-nine articles (25 case reports and 4 series) and 70 patients were selected for inclusion. No cranial leak cases were identified. BSD diagnosis should be made based on clinical signs and symptoms and radiologic findings. There is a male predominance (F:M ratio 1:4) and a peak incidence in the 6th decade of life. The main clinical manifestation is insidious onset, gradually progressive cognitive and behavioral changes characteristic for bvFTD. Headache is present in the majority of patients (89%). The presence of brain sagging and absence of frontotemporal atrophy is an absolute criterion for the diagnosis. CSF leak is identified with myelography and digital subtraction myelography. The treatment and repair depend on the etiology and extent of the dural defect, although an epidural blood patch is the first-line treatment in most cases. With treatment, 81% experienced partial and 67% complete resolution of their symptoms. This review highlights the most important clinical aspects of BSD. Due to the sparse evidence and lack of BSD awareness, many patients are likely left undiagnosed. Recognizing this condition is essential to provide early treatment to reverse the cognitive and behavioral changes that may otherwise progress and fully impair the patient. Moreover, patients with longstanding SIH must be assessed carefully for cognitive and behavioral changes.

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