Significance: Differentiating papilledema from pseudopapilledema reflecting tilted/crowded optic discs or disc drusen is critical but can be challenging. Our study suggests that spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer thickness and retrobulbar optic nerve sheath diameter (ONSD) measured by A-scan ultrasound provide useful information when differentiating the two conditions.
Purpose: To evaluate the use of A-scan ultrasound and spectral-domain OCT retinal nerve fiber layer thickness (RNFLT) in differentiating papilledema associated with idiopathic intracranial hypertension from pseudopapilledema.
Methods: Retrospective cross-sectional analysis included 23 papilledema and 28 pseudopapilledema patients. Ultrasound-measured ONSD at primary gaze, percent change in ONSD at lateral gaze (30° test), and peripapillary RNFLT were analyzed. Receiver operating characteristic curves were constructed using one eye from each subject.
Results: Compared with pseudopapilledema, papilledema eyes showed larger mean ONSD (5.4 ± 0.6 vs. 4.0 ± 0.3 mm, P < .0001), greater change of ONSD at lateral gaze (22.4 ± 8.4% vs. 2.8 ± 4.8%, P < .0001), and thicker retinal nerve fiber layer (219.1 ± 104.6 vs. 102.4 ± 20.1 μm, P < .0001). Optic nerve sheath diameter and 30° test had the greatest area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.98 and 0.97, respectively; followed by inferior quadrant (0.90) and average RNFLT (0.87). All papilledema eyes with Frisén scale greater than grade II were accurately diagnosed by ONSD, 30° test, or OCT. In mild papilledema (Frisén scale grades I and II, n = 15), area under the receiver operating characteristic curve remained high for ONSD (0.95) and 30° test (0.93) but decreased to 0.61 to 0.71 for RNFLT. At 95% specificity, sensitivities for ONSD, 30° test, and RNFLT were 91.3%, 91.3%, and 56.5%, respectively, for the entire papilledema group and 80.0%, 86.7%, and 13.3% for the mild papilledema subgroup.
Conclusions: Retinal nerve fiber layer thickness can potentially be used to detect moderate to severe papilledema. A-scan may further assist differentiation of mild papilledema from pseudopapilledema.