Our purpose was to evaluate the diagnostic value of measuring diameters of optic nerve sheath (ONSD), presence/absence of papilledema, tortuosity of the optic nerve, flattening of the posterior sclera, and intraocular protrusion of the prelaminar optic nerve for intracranial pressure assessment in cases of Chiari I malformation.
In a retrospective study, MRI data of 37 consecutive pediatric patients with Chiari malformation and data of 400 patients without intracranial pathology were compared and analyzed. ONSDs were measured at the point where the ophthalmic artery crosses the optic nerve (anatomical landmark). The correlation analysis was performed with clinical findings, gender, age, papilledema, and other neuro-ophthalmological findings.
ONSD was enlarged in 38 % of cases of Chiari malformation. The enlargement was bilateral, no correlation with age or gender was found (p = 0.67 and p = 0.76, respectively). The presence of papilledema was detected in 19 % of cases presenting less valuable diagnostic sign if compared with ONSD. The tortuosity of the optic nerve was found in 22 % of cases, but in three patients, it was unilateral. All patients with enlarged ONSD and other neuro-ophthalmological signs present were treated surgically, while most of the patients without these signs (20/23) were treated conservatively.
In majority of pediatric cases of Chiari malformation, the ONSD is not enlarged and other neuro-ophthalmological signs are not present. Detecting the enlarged ONSD and other neuro-ophthalmological signs in cases of Chiari malformation may indicate the elevated intracranial pressure and necessity for urgent surgical intervention.