MR imaging of papilledema and visual pathways: effects of increased intracranial pressure and pathophysiologic mechanisms

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2013 May;34(5):919-24. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A3022. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Papilledema, defined as swelling of the optic disc, frequently occurs in the setting of increased ICP and in a variety of medical conditions, including pseudotumor cerebri, sinus thrombosis, intracerebral hemorrhage, frontal lobe neoplasms, and Chiari malformation. Noninvasive imaging of the ON is possible by using MR imaging, with a variety of findings occurring in the setting of papilledema, including flattening of the posterior sclera, protrusion of the optic disc, widening of the ONS, and tortuosity of the ON. Early recognition of papilledema and elevated ICP is of paramount importance for ensuring restoration of vision. Newer advanced MR imaging techniques such as fMRI and DTI may prove useful in the future to assess the potential effects of papilledema on retinal and visual pathway integrity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / complications*
  • Intracranial Hypertension / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Optic Disk / pathology*
  • Papilledema / complications*
  • Papilledema / pathology*
  • Visual Pathways / pathology*