Journal of Neurology

, Volume 258, Issue 11, pp 2014–2019 | Cite as

Sonographic assessment of the optic nerve sheath in idiopathic intracranial hypertension

  • Jochen BäuerleEmail author
  • Max Nedelmann
Original Communication


The aim of this work was to investigate the potential of ultrasound-based optic nerve sheath diameter (ONSD) measurements in detecting raised intracranial pressure in patients with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) and to describe ONSD response to lumbar puncture. In ten patients with newly diagnosed IIH, transorbital sonography was carried out to assess ONSD, OND (optic nerve diameter), and optic disc elevation before and after lumbar puncture. Twenty-five patients with other neurological disorders served as controls. Subjects with IIH showed a significantly enlarged ONSD on both sides (6.4 ± 0.6 mm vs. 5.4 ± 0.5 mm in controls; p < 0.001). The best cut-off value of ONSD for detecting raised ICP was 5.8 mm with a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 84%. After lumbar puncture, ONSD decreased bilaterally (right 5.8 ± 0.7 mm, p < 0.004; left 5.9 ± 0.7 mm, p < 0.043). No post-puncture changes could be observed with regard to OND and optic disc elevation. Sonographic ONSD evaluation may be useful as an additional tool to identify patients with raised intracranial pressure, as in IIH. Furthermore, our data suggest a potential usefulness of this method for monitoring of treatment effects. The degree of ONSD response to lumbar puncture differs in subjects with IIH, which may possibly be related to findings of a defective CSF circulation in the optic nerve sheath in this disorder, a state that is referred to as optic nerve compartment syndrome.


Optic nerve sheath diameter Optic nerve sonography Idiopathic intracranial hypertension Optic nerve diameter 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyJustus-Liebig-UniversityGiessenGermany

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