Edema is swelling caused by disruption of the fluid within the body’s tissues. Edema is typically a localized inflammatory reaction following brain injury. Neural tissue is injured, which causes a release of interstitial fluids within a restricted space, the skull cavity.
In brain injury, there are two principle types of edema. Vasogenic edema occurs when there is a breakdown of the tight junction cells in capillaries that make up the blood-brain barrier. Cytotoxic edema occurs when sodium and potassium pumps within the glial membrane break down, and as a result, sodium and water are retained within the cell membrane leading to swelling. In contrast to vasogenic edema, cytotoxic edema does not disturb the blood-brain barrier.
Focal brain edema often contributes to the effects of brain swelling to increase intracranial pressure following trauma. Clinical symptoms that should raise suspicion for the presence of edema or swelling include alteration in the...
References and Readings
- Marmarou, A. (2007). A review of progress in understanding the pathophysiology and treatment of brain edema. Neurosurgery Focus, 22, E1.Google Scholar