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OBJECTIVES: To review the optimal diagnostic cut-off of ultrasonographic optic nerve sheath diameter (ONSD) in the diagnosis of increased intracranial pressure (IICP). METHODS: A systematic search was conducted of available studies assessing the use of ONSD ultrasonography in patients with suspected IICP. Meta-analysis of diagnostic accuracy of ultrasonographic ONSD was performed using a bivariate model of random effects to summarize pooled sensitivity and specificity. A summary receiver operating characteristics (SROC) curve was plotted. Accuracy measures associated with ONSD cut-off and predefined covariates were investigated with meta-regression. RESULTS: We included 38 studies, comprising a total of 2824 patients. A total of 21 studies used invasive techniques as a reference standard estimation of IICP and meta-analysis revealed a pooled sensitivity of 0.90 (95% CI 0.85-0.93) and specificity of 0.87 (95% CI 0.80-0.91). Optimal ONSD cut-off values ranged between 4.1 mm and 7.2 mm. Meta-regression analysis showed that ONSD cut-off values of 5.6 to 6.3 mm were associated with higher pooled specificity compared to cut-off values of 4.9 to 5.5 mm (0.93, 95% CI 0.85-0.97 vs. 0.78, 95% CI 0.65-0.87; p = 0.036). CONCLUSIONS: Ultrasonography of ONSD shows a high diagnostic accuracy for IICP, with high pooled sensitivity and specificity. Additionally, larger cut-off values seem to significantly increase specificity without compromising sensitivity, which support their use as optimal ONSD cut-off. The overall high sensitivity of ultrasonographic ONSD suggests its usefulness as a screening tool for IIC, which may provide an estimate of when invasive methods are warranted. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: ONSD ultrasonography is a fast and cost-effective method with a high diagnostic accuracy to detect IICP. The optimum ONSD cut-off hasn't been established before, but we suggest the 5.6 to 6.3 mm range as the best for the diagnosis of IICP.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol Sci

Publication Date





Intracranial pressure, Optic nerve sheath, Optic nerve sheath diameter, Ultrasonography, Humans, Intracranial Pressure, Optic Nerve, Intracranial Hypertension, Sensitivity and Specificity, Ultrasonography