Pharmacologic management of brain edema
Cerebral edema is an intrinsic response to a variety of structural and metabolic insults. It is a major contributing factor in the development of intracranial hypertension and brain herniation, underscoring the need for early identification through an integration of clinical and neuroimaging findings, followed by timely institution of measures to reduce brain edema and intracranial hypertension. The management of cerebral edema requires a comprehensive approach in which pharmacologic treatments play a central role. These include glucocorticoids, hyperosmolar agents, diuretics, and sedative-anesthetic agents. Basic, translational, and clinical studies are needed to further unravel mechanisms underlying brain edema, with the goal of identifying new treatment strategies. Promising targets include modulators of endothelial cell tight junction proteins and of aquaporin channel expression within the blood-brain barrier.
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