Background and purpose: T2/FLAIR hyperintensity of the optic nerve/optic nerve head has been described as a sensitive finding in idiopathic intracranial hypertension using post-contrast 3D-T2/FLAIR imaging. The purpose of this study is to assess whether hyperintensity on non-enhanced 2D-T2/FLAIR imaging occurs more likely in diseased patients than controls and to evaluate the relationship between FLAIR signal and visual parameters Materials and methods: A retrospective case-control study was performed of patients with idiopathic intracranial hypertension and controls who underwent orbital MRI. Three neuroradiologists reviewed the FLAIR images, subjectively evaluating for hyperintense signal within the optic nerves/optic nerve heads using a 5-point Likert Scale. Quantitative assessment of optic nerve signal using regions of interests was performed. Clinical parameters were extracted. The diagnostic performance was evaluated, and Spearman correlation calculated to assess the relationship between FLAIR signal and visual outcomes. Results: The sensitivity of abnormal FLAIR signal within the optic nerves and optic nerve heads in patients with idiopathic intracranial hypertension ranged from 25–54% and 4–29%, respectively, with specificities ranging from 67–92% and 83–100%. Quantitative assessment revealed a significant difference in CNR between cases and controls in the left posterior optic nerve (p=.002). A positive linear relationship existed between abnormal optic nerve head signal and papilledema grade (OD: p=.02, OS: p=.008) but not with other visual parameters. Conclusion: T2/FLAIR hyperintensity in the optic nerve/optic nerve head may support the diagnosis of idiopathic intracranial hypertension but its absence should not dissuade it. If present, abnormal signal in the optic nerve head correlates with papilledema.
- FLAIR imaging
- Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
- Magnetic resonance imaging