Use of scanning laser ophthalmoscopy to monitor papilloedema in idiopathic intracranial hypertension

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To determine the sensitivity of confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO) in detecting clinically significant changes in papilloedema secondary to idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) and the correlation with visual field loss.


Eight patients-three new, two recurrent, and three chronic cases of IIH-were examined over a 9 month period with SLO (Heidelberg retina tomograph) of optic nerve head and 30-2 Humphrey visual fields (six cases). Optic disc swelling (volume) was assessed in each eye using a circular contour line placed around the swollen optic nerve head on the mean image of three topographic images. Nine volume measurements from single images in each eye of every patient were performed on one occasion to assess repeatability.


In the five acute cases optic disc volumes (range 1-16 mm3) decreased with treatment to stable, normal levels. Three of these had mild, reproducible, field defects which resolved. Two chronic cases had stable or fluctuating disc volume with no detectable change in grade of papilloedema and mild field loss. In one case which underwent theco-peritoneal shunting both disc volume and field worsened, indicating therapeutic failure. Both improved postoperatively.


SLO has a high sensitivity for detecting small changes in disc volumes and correlates closely with visual field change in the short term. It can confirm therapeutic failure by detecting stable or increasing disc volume. Decreasing volume may indicate resolution of papilloedema or secondary optic atrophy, so accompanying funduscopy and visual fields remain essential.

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