Key messages

• Brain edema can be classified into five types. In clinical practice several types may coexist but identification of the predominant type may guide therapy.

• In some conditions non-specific intracranial pressure reduction therapy can be used to improve cerebral perfusion pressure, reduce edema formation, and increase edema resolution.

• Edema associated with hydrocephalus or brain tumors may best be treated using cerebrospinal fluid drainage and steroids respectively.

• Increased understanding of the biochemical mediators of edema genesis is leading to successful experimental therapeutic intervention with novel agents. Their efficacy in the clinical situation remains a subject for investigation.

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