Primary Varicella Infection Presenting With Headache and Elevated Intracranial Pressure

Oded Gilad, Noa Shefer-Averbuch, Ben Zion Garty*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Primary varicella infection may be associated with neurologic complications, such as cerebritis and meningoencephalitis. Several cases of varicella infection with elevated intracranial pressure have been reported. We describe a 13-year-old immunocompetent girl who presented with a clinical picture of headaches and elevated intracranial pressure as the only manifestation of primary varicella zoster infection. The working diagnosis at first was pseudotumor cerebri based on complaints of headache of 2 weeks' duration, in addition to vomiting and papilledema, without fever or skin eruption. On lumbar puncture, opening pressure was 420 mmH2O, but mild pleocytosis and mildly elevated protein level ruled out the diagnosis of pseudotumor cerebri. Our patient had no history of previous varicella infection, and she did not receive the varicella zoster vaccine. Serology tests, done on admission and repeated 2 months later, suggested primary varicella infection. The literature on varicella infection associated with pseudotumor cerebri or elevated intracranial pressure is reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-795
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 21 May 2015


  • elevated intracranial pressure
  • papilledema
  • varicella


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