Diagnosis and Treatment of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension
Your ophthalmologist will do a series of tests to diagnose idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). They may include:
- An eye exam. Your ophthalmologist will check your optic nerve for swelling. He or she will also test to see if you have any blank spots in your field of vision.
- An MRI or CT scan. These scans help to check whether your symptoms are due to IIH or caused by other medical problems.
- A spinal tap. This is when your doctor measures the pressure of your spinal fluid. He or she will also draw fluid to test it for any problems.
How is idiopathic intracranial hypertension treated?
You might not need any treatment if IIH is not causing severe headaches or vision loss. If you do need treatment, here are some options:
- Your doctor may prescribe medicine that treats glaucoma to help lower your CSF pressure. You might also be prescribed diuretics—medicine that helps your body get rid of excess fluid.
- If you are overweight or obese, your doctor may want you to lose weight.
- To protect your optic nerve from further damage, your ophthalmologist may make a tiny hole or several tiny slits in part of the optic nerve. This helps relieve some of the pressure on the nerve.
- If your symptoms are severe, your ophthalmologist may want you to have a shunt placed in your head. This is a tiny tube that carries fluid away from where it builds up. Then the fluid can be absorbed elsewhere in the body. This procedure lowers the pressure in your head.