Optic Nerve Sheath Diameter Ultrasound: Optic Nerve Growth Curve and Its Application to Detect Intracranial Hypertension in Children

Liviana Fontanel, Stefano Pensiero, Luca Ronfani, Valentina Rosolen, Egidio Barbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: First, to create an optic nerve growth curve from normal optic nerve sheath diameter (ONSD) values measured by using B-scan ultrasonography in subjects 0-18 years of age. Second, to identify age-appropriate cutoff values of ONSD to be used in the diagnosis of intracranial hypertension (IHT). Design: Prospective cross-sectional study. Methods: B-scan ocular ultrasonography was performed on both eyes of 215 subjects 0-18 years of age, divided into 3 groups: 165 healthy children, 29 children with IHT (all >4 years of age), and 21 children with optic disc drusen (ODD). Results: There were no statistically significant differences in between the ONSDs of healthy children and those in subjects with ODD. An optic nerve growth curve was created by using ONSDs measured in healthy subjects 0-18 years of age, using the equation: ONSD = ln [33.15] – (–0.18 × ln [children's age]). The curve showed a progressive increase of ONSD up to 10 years of age, and it remained constant until the age of 18. For this reason, 2 different cutoff values were calculated for age groups 4-10 and 11-18. Values were 4.10 mm and 4.4 mm, respectively, with a 100.0% sensitivity and a specificity ranging from 83.9% to 98.8%. A sensitivity of 28.6% was reached for the population of subjects 4-18 years of age with a threshold value of 5 mm, as used in published reports. Conclusions: The ONSD continued to enlarge gradually until the age of 10. Therefore, 2 different cutoff values for the age groups 4-10 and 11-18 were calculated, considering the ONSDs of subjects 11-18 years of age overlapping with those of adults. No patients with IHT <4 years old were found. Further studies are needed to evaluate the correct cutoff values for these ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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