Puerperal seizures after postdural puncture headache

Vance E. Shearer, Harish S. Jhaveri, F. Gary Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe eight cases of postpartum women who developed seizures associated with postdural puncture headache. Methods: Between the years 1982-1991, more than 19,000 women at our institution underwent subarachnoid analgesia for delivery or puerperal tubal sterilization. In eight of these women, grand mal seizures developed after spinal headache. Results: In all eight women, typical postdural puncture headaches were followed by visual disturbances that progressed to cortical blindness in three. These headaches and visual disturbances culminated in generalized tonic-clonic seizures 2-7 days after dural puncture. Although some of these women had transient hypertension at the time of seizure, none had preeclampsia. In three of the women evaluated, there was evidence of regional blood flow changes; two had diffuse cerebral artery vasospasm seen on angiography, and the third had diminished blood flow detected by a xenon-flow study. Conculsion: We propose that cerebral vasoconstriction is the mechanism for post-dural puncture headaches and seizures. Anatomic brain displacement may incite this vasospasm. This mechanism could also be the cause of cranial nerve palsies that have been described after dural puncture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-260
Number of pages6
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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