Ultrasonography of the optic nerve in neurocritically ill patients

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2011 Jul;55(6):644-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2011.02432.x. Epub 2011 Apr 4.


The rapid diagnosis of intracranial hypertension is urgently needed for therapeutic reasons in various clinical settings. This can rarely be achieved without invasive procedures such as intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring or neuroimaging. The optic nerve is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and dura mater, which forms the optic nerve sheath (ONS). Because of the connection with the intracranial subarachnoid space, ONS diameter (ONSD) is influenced by CSF pressure variations. Bedside ultrasonographic measurement of ONSD has been proposed as a non-invasive and reliable means to detect raised ICP in neurocritically ill patients. In several studies, it proves to have a good correlation with the direct measurement of ICP and a low interobserver variability. However, no general consensus exists over the upper normal ONSD limit. We performed a review of the literature on the use of the ultrasonography of the optic nerve in the evaluation of patients with suspected intracranial hypertension. The aim of this review is to describe the technique and to assess the validity of this diagnostic method.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure
  • Critical Illness*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intracranial Pressure
  • Optic Nerve / diagnostic imaging*
  • Optic Nerve / pathology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial