Diagnostic value of spinal MR imaging in spontaneous intracranial hypotension syndrome

A Watanabe, T Horikoshi, M Uchida, H Koizumi, T Yagishita, H Kinouchi
AJNR. American Journal of Neuroradiology 2009, 30 (1): 147-51

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH) presents with orthostatic headache, and the diagnosis is made on the basis of low CSF pressure and brain MR imaging findings characteristic of the disorder. However, a broad spectrum of symptoms and MR imaging findings of SIH is recognized, and some cases have no typical MR imaging abnormalities. SIH is believed to be caused by CSF leakage from the spinal dural sac, whereas the usefulness of MR imaging of the spine remains unclear. Our aim was to elucidate the diagnostic value of brain and spinal MR imaging

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The sensitivities for the detection of SIH were retrospectively evaluated in 18 patients with SIH treated in our institutions between January 1998 and August 2007.

RESULTS: Brain MR imaging detected abnormalities in 15 of the 18 patients (83%): diffuse pachymeningeal enhancement in 15 (83%), descent of the cerebellar tonsil in 13 (72%), brain stem sagging in 13 (72%), enlargement of the pituitary gland in 12 (67%), and subdural fluid collection in 13 (72%). Spinal MR imaging detected abnormalities in 17 of the 18 patients (94%): distention of the epidural veins in 14 (78%), epidural fluid collection on fat-saturated T2-weighted images in 16 (89%), and abnormal visualization of the nerve root sleeve in only 1 (6%). The sensitivity for SIH was 83% for brain MR imaging and 94% for spinal MR imaging.

CONCLUSIONS: Spinal MR imaging is useful for the diagnosis of SIH, especially in the early stage.

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