BACKGROUND: To define the efficacy, complication profile and cost of surgical options for treating idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) with respect to the following endpoints: vision and headache improvement, normal CSF pressure restoration, papilloedema resolution, relapse rate, operative complications, cost of intervention and quality of life.
METHODS: A systematic review of the surgical treatment of IIH was carried out. Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were systematically searched from 1985 to 2014 to identify all relevant manuscripts written in English. Additional studies were identified by searching the references of retrieved papers and relative narrative reviews.
RESULTS: Forty-one (41) studies were included (36 case series and 5 case reports), totalling 728 patients. Three hundred forty-one patients were treated with optic nerve sheath fenestration (ONSF), 128 patients with lumboperitoneal shunting (LPS), 72 patients with ventriculoperitoneal shunting (VPS), 155 patients with venous sinus stenting and 32 patients with bariatric surgery. ONSF showed considerable efficacy in vision improvement, while CSF shunting had a superior headache response. Venous sinus stenting demonstrated satisfactory results in both vision and headache improvement along with the best complication profile and low relapse rate, but longer follow-up periods are needed. The complication rate of bariatric surgery was high when compared to other interventions and visual outcomes have not been reported adequately. ONSF had the lowest cost.
CONCLUSIONS: No surgical modality proved to be clearly superior to any other in IIH management. However, in certain contexts, a given approach appears more justified. Therefore, a treatment algorithm has been formulated, based on the extracted evidence of this review. The traditional treatment paradigm may need to be re-examined with sinus stenting as a first-line treatment modality.