Optic nerve sheath diameter assessment by neurosonology: A review of methodologic discrepancies

Raoul R. F. Stevens, Erik D. Gommer, Marcel J. H. Aries, Michael Ertl, Werner H. Mess, Wouter Huberts, Tammo Delhaas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

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Background and Purpose Reported cutoff values of the optic nerve sheath diameter (ONSD) for the diagnosis of elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) are inconsistent. This hampers ONSD as a possible noninvasive bedside monitoring tool for ICP. Because the influence of methodological differences on variations in cutoff values is unknown, we performed a narrative review to identify discrepancies in ONSD assessment methodologies and to investigate their effect on reported ONSD values. Methods We used a structured and quantitative approach in which each ONSD methodology found in the reviewed articles was categorized based on the characteristic appearance of the ultrasound images and ultrasound marker placement. Subsequently, we investigated the influence of the different methodologies on ONSD values by organizing the ONSDs with respect to these categories. Results In a total of 63 eligible articles, we could determine the applied ONSD assessment methodology. Reported ultrasound images either showed the optic nerve and its sheath as a dark region with hyperechoic striped band at its edges or as a single dark region surrounded by lighter retrobulbar fat. Four different ultrasound marker positions were used to delineate the optic nerve sheath, which resulted in different ONSD values and more importantly, different sensitivities to changes in ICP. Conclusions Based on our observations, we recommend to place ultrasound markers at the outer edges of the hyperechoic striped bands or at the transitions from the single dark region to the hyperechoic retrobulbar fat because these locations yielded the highest sensitivity of ONSD measurements for increased ICP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)814-825
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroimaging
Issue number5
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • intracranial pressure
  • optic nerve sheath diameter
  • review
  • ultrasound

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