Papilloedema is essentially an ophthalmoscopic diagnosis and refers to swelling of the optic disc. The MRI appearance relates to the dural anatomy of the optic nerve, which is continuous with the subarachnoid space, thereby allowing increased intracranial pressure (ICP) to be transmitted to the optic disc. The causes are protean, a veritable Augean stable of conditions (see below), the most common of which would be an intracranial mass or collection.
Note however that with the advent of motion correction (e.g. BLADE) sequences, CSF in the dural sheath over the optic nerve is much more frequently seen, and caution should be shown when reporting this. Flattening of bulging of the optic nerve head, is probably a more specific sign.
Possible aetiologies of papilloedema
- intra cranial masses
- extra axial collection
- meningeal disease
- benign intracranial hypertension also known as pseudotumour cerebri
- progressive stenosis of the optic canals and compressive optic neuropathy - rare but can occur in in certain skeletal dysplasias such as progressive diaphyseal dysplasia 4
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- 1. Passi N, Degnan AJ, Levy LM. MR Imaging of Papilledema and Visual Pathways: Effects of Increased Intracranial Pressure and Pathophysiologic Mechanisms. 2012;doi:10.3174/ajnr.A3022 - Pubmed citation
- 2. Bec P, Adam P, Mathis A et-al. Optic nerve head drusen. High-resolution computed tomographic approach. Arch. Ophthalmol. 1984;102 (5): 680-2. Arch. Ophthalmol. (link) - Pubmed citation
- 3. Ashwin PT, Sivaraj RR, Wehbeh L. Papilloedema or pseudopapilloedema? Computed tomography to the rescue! Postgrad Med J. 2006;82 (971): 580. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2006.046508 - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 4. Wright M, Miller NR, Mcfadzean RM et-al. Papilloedema, a complication of progressive diaphyseal dysplasia: a series of three case reports. Br J Ophthalmol. 1998;82 (9): 1042-8. Br J Ophthalmol (link) - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 5. Jinkins JR. "Papilledema": neuroradiologic evaluation of optic disk protrusion with dynamic orbital CT. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1987;149 (4): 793-802. AJR Am J Roentgenol (citation) - Pubmed citation
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