Fifty shades of gradients: does the pressure gradient in venous sinus stenting for idiopathic intracranial hypertension matter? A systematic review

J Neurosurg. 2018 Mar 2;130(3):999-1005. doi: 10.3171/2017.8.JNS17459.


Objective: The role of venous sinus stenting (VSS) for idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is not well understood. The aim of this systematic review is to attempt to identify subsets of patients with IIH who will benefit from VSS based on the pressure gradients of their venous sinus stenosis.

Methods: MEDLINE/PubMed was searched for studies reporting venous pressure gradients across the stenotic segment of the venous sinus, pre- and post-stent pressure gradients, and clinical outcomes after VSS. Findings are reported according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines.

Results: From 32 eligible studies, a total of 186 patients were included in the analysis. Patients who had favorable outcomes had higher mean pressure gradients (22.8 ± 11.5 mm Hg vs 17.4 ± 8.0 mm Hg, p = 0.033) and higher changes in pressure gradients after stent placement (19.4 ± 10.0 mm Hg vs 12.0 ± 6.0 mm Hg, p = 0.006) compared with those with unfavorable outcomes. The post-stent pressure gradients between the 2 groups were not significantly different (2.8 ± 4.0 mm Hg vs 2.7 ± 2.0 mm Hg, p = 0.934). In a multivariate stepwise logistic regression controlling for age, sex, body mass index, CSF opening pressure, pre-stent pressure gradient, and post-stent pressure gradient, the change in pressure gradient with stent placement was found to be an independent predictor of favorable outcome (p = 0.028). Using a pressure gradient of 21 as a cutoff, 81/86 (94.2%) of patients with a gradient > 21 achieved favorable outcomes, compared with 82/100 (82.0%) of patients with a gradient ≤ 21 (p = 0.022).

Conclusions: There appears to be a relationship between the pressure gradient of venous sinus stenosis and the success of VSS in IIH. A randomized controlled trial would help elucidate this relationship and potentially guide patient selection.

Keywords: BMI = body mass index; ICP = intracranial pressure; IIH = idiopathic intracranial hypertension; PRISMA = Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses; VSS = venous sinus stenting; idiopathic intracranial hypertension; interventional neurosurgery; pressure gradient; pseudotumor cerebri; venous sinus stenting; venous stenosis.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cranial Sinuses / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / physiopathology*
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / surgery*
  • Stents
  • Treatment Outcome