Background: To explore the relationship between diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI) hyperintensity of the optic nerve head (ONH) and papil-ledema grade in patients with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).
Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted of patients with definitively diagnosed IIH by clinical examination and visual field (VF) analysis who underwent orbital magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) within 4 weeks of diagnosis. A neuroradiologist masked to the diagnosis assessed the results of DWI for each eye independently and graded the signal intensity of the ONH into none, mild, and prominent categories. DWI grading was compared with papilledema grade and visual field mean deviation (VFMD) by Spearman rank correlation analysis and t-tests.
Results: Forty-two patients were included in the study. A statistically significant difference (P = 0.0195) was found between papilledema grade and patients with prominent DWI findings (n = 16; mean papilledema grade 3.75 ± 1.25) vs mild or no ONH hyperintensity (n = 26; mean pap-illedema grade 2.79 ± 1.24) at the time of initial diagnosis. DWI hyperintensity of the ONH at diagnosis was also found to be significantly correlated with the degree of papilledema at follow-up (r = 0.39, P = 0.0183) but not with VFMD.
Conclusions: We found a significant correlation between the severity of papilledema and ONH hyperintensity on DWI in patients with IIH but not with VF loss or other visual parameters. These findings may offer insight into the pathophysiology of papilledema in IIH and provide a surro-gate marker for the presence and severity of papilledema.