Bilateral transverse sinus stenosis predicts IIH without papilledema in patients with migraine

Neurology. 2006 Aug 8;67(3):419-23. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000227892.67354.85.


Background: The headache profile of patients with idiopathic intracranial hypertension without papilledema (IIHWOP) may be indistinguishable from that of migraine. Bilateral transverse sinus stenosis (BTSS) has been found in the majority of patients with IIHWOP. The frequency of BTSS associated with IIHWOP in patients with migraine is unknown.

Objective: To detect the frequency of BTSS in adult patients with migraine and to investigate whether the presence of BTSS identifies patients with IIHWOP.

Methods: In a prospective study from December 2000 to November 2005, 724 consecutive patients with recurrent headaches who fulfilled International Headache Society diagnostic criteria for migraine underwent cerebral MR venography (MRV). A portion of these patients underwent a lumbar puncture (LP) to measure CSF pressure. MRV and LP were also performed in 70 age-matched control subjects.

Results: Six hundred seventy-five of the 724 patients with migraines had normal MRV. Seventy of these 675 patients underwent LP, and all of them had normal CSF pressure. Forty-nine (6.7%) of the 724 patients with migraine had BTSS. Twenty-eight of these 49 patients with BTSS underwent LP, and 19 (67.8%) had IIHWOP. The headache profiles of patients with BTSS and IIHWOP did not differ from those of patients with normal MRVs and CSF pressures within normal limits. CSF pressure was normal in both patients and controls with normal MRV.

Conclusions: Of patients with migraine, 6.7% had bilateral transverse sinus stenosis; 67.8% of these patients had idiopathic intracranial hypertension without papilledema (IIHWOP). These results suggest that patients with migraine who present bilateral transverse sinus stenosis on cerebral MR venography should undergo lumbar puncture to exclude IIHWOP.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Constriction, Pathologic / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Papilledema / etiology
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / diagnosis
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / etiology*