An update on idiopathic intracranial hypertension in adults: a look at pathophysiology, diagnostic approach and management.
Idiopathic intracranial hypertension is a neurological syndrome determined by a rise in intracranial pressure without a detectable cause. Course and prognosis may be changeable, requiring a multidisciplinary approach for its diagnosis and management. Although its precise pathogenesis is still unknown, many studies have been carried out to define the possible causal and associated factors, such as retinoids, steroid hormones, body mass index and recent weight gains, cytokines and adipokines levels. The clinical presentation can be variable including chronic headache, disturbance of vision, diplopia and tinnitus. Even if papilloedema is considered the most specific sign, it could not be observed in more than 5% of patients during the evaluation of the fundus oculi. Neuroradiological signs acquire greater importance in patients who do not present papilloedema and may suggest the diagnosis of idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Other assessments can be useful in the diagnostic process, such as optical coherence tomography, visual evoked potentials, ocular ultrasonography and fundus fluorescein angiography and autofluorescence. Nonetheless, cerebrospinal fluid pressure measurement is required to establish a definite diagnosis. Management may be different, since surgical procedures or lumbar punctures are often required when symptoms develop rapidly leading to a loss of visual function. Apart from these cases, patients can be treated with a pharmacological approach and low-calorie diet, but they also need to be monitored over time since relapses years later are not uncommon.