Imaging features of idiopathic intracranial hypertension, including a new finding: widening of the foramen ovale

Acta Radiol. 2012 Jul;53(6):682-8. doi: 10.1258/ar.2012.110705. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Abstract

Background: Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a clinical disorder of unknown etiology manifesting with increased intracranial pressure in the absence of hydrocephalus, an underlying mass lesion, and demonstrating normal cerebrospinal fluid composition. IIH may exhibit several non-specific imaging findings including: an empty sella, posterior globe flattening, tortuosity of the optic nerve, and optic nerve sheath distention.

Purpose: To introduce widening of the foramen ovale as a new imaging marker for IIH.

Material and methods: IIH is a syndrome which may exhibit several previously described non-specific imaging findings including: an empty sella, posterior globe flattening, tortuosity of the optic nerve, and optic nerve sheath distention. We hypothesize that chronically elevated cerebrospinal fluid pressure can lead to osseous erosions and we propose widening of the foramen ovale as a new imaging marker for IIH.

Results: Average foramen ovale sizes were increased in patients with IIH compared to controls (30.03 ± 7.00 mm(2) vs. 24.21 ± 5.97 mm(2), P < 0.001). For a cut-off value of 30 mm(2), the sensitivity of FO area to detect IIH was 50%, with 81% specificity. Classic findings were significantly more common in patients with IIH compared to controls including: empty sella (65.9% vs. 0%), posterior globe flattening (65.9% vs. 4.5%), vertical tortuosity of the optic nerve (54.5% vs. 9.1%), and optic nerve sheath distention (52.3% vs. 11.4%, all P values < 0.001).

Conclusion: Our study confirms the association of several classic imaging findings with IIH and supports widening of the foramen ovale as an additional imaging marker which may be incorporated into the evaluation of patients suspected to have this condition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Female
  • Foramen Ovale / diagnostic imaging*
  • Foramen Ovale / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / diagnosis*
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*