Noninvasive intracranial pressure estimation by orbital subarachnoid space measurement: the Beijing Intracranial and Intraocular Pressure (iCOP) study

Crit Care. 2013 Jul 24;17(4):R162. doi: 10.1186/cc12841.


Introduction: The orbital subarachnoid space surrounding the optic nerve is continuous with the circulation system for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and can be visualized by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We hypothesized that the orbital subarachnoid space width (OSASW) is correlated with and can serve as a surrogate for intracranial pressure (ICP). Our aim was to develop a method for a noninvasive measurement of the intracranial CSF-pressure (CSF-P) based on MRI-assisted OSASW.

Methods: The prospective observational comparative study included neurology patients who underwent lumbar CSF-P measurement and 3.0-Tesla orbital magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for other clinical reasons. The width of the orbital subarachnoid space (OSASW) around the optic nerve was measured with MRI at 3, 9, and 15 mm behind the globe. The study population was randomly divided into a training group and a test group. After adjusting for body mass index (BMI) and mean arterial blood pressure (MABP), algorithms for the associations between CSF-P and OSASW were calculated in the training group. The algorithms were subsequently verified in the test group. Main outcome measures were the width of the orbital subarachnoid space (OSASW) and the lumbar cerebrospinal fluid pressure (CSF-P).

Results: Seventy-two patients were included in the study. In the training group, the algorithms for the associations between CSF-P and OSASW were as follows: (a) CSF-P = 9.31 × OSASW (at 3 mm) + 0.48 × BMI + 0.14 × MABP-19.94; (b) CSF-P = 16.95 × OSASW (at 9 mm) + 0.39 × BMI + 0.14 × MABP-20.90; and (c) CSF-P = 17.54 × OSASW (at 15 mm) + 0.47 × BMI + 0.13 × MABP-21.52. Applying these algorithms in the independent test group, the measured lumbar CSF-P (13.6 ± 5.1 mm Hg) did not differ significantly from the calculated MRI-derived CSF-P (OSASW at 3 mm: 12.7 ± 4.2 mm Hg (P = 0.07); at 9 mm: 13.4 ± 5.1 mm Hg (P = 0.35); and at 15 mm: 14.0 ± 4.9 mm Hg (P = 0.87)). Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were higher for the CSF-P assessment based on OSASW at 9 mm and at 15 mm behind the globe (all ICCs, 0.87) than for OSASW measurements at 3 mm (ICC, 0.80).

Conclusions: In patients with normal, moderately decreased or elevated ICP, MRI-assisted measurement of the OSASW appears to be useful for the noninvasive quantitative estimation of ICP, if BMI and MABP as contributing parameters are taken into account.

Trial registration: Clinical trial registered with the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry: ChiCTR-OCC-11001271.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Pressure / physiology*
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Puncture / adverse effects
  • Subarachnoid Space / pathology
  • Subarachnoid Space / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ChiCTR/OCC-11001271