alexa Symptomatic compression of the optic nerve by the carotid artery


Journal of Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology

Author(s): Jacobson DM

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Objective To characterize the clinical features and course of patients with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-defined optic nerve compression by the supraclinoid carotid artery. Design Retrospective, observational case series. Participants Eighteen patients with 24 affected eyes were identified by reviewing case records from the author’s referral-based neuro-ophthalmology practice. Predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to potential participants. Main outcome measures The following variables were abstracted from the medical record: age, gender, presenting symptoms, past medical problems, visual acuity, color vision, visual field, pupillary reactions, optic disc appearance, other neurologic signs, and previously documented and follow-up examinations. Results There were eight women and ten men ranging in age from 28 to 86 years (median age, 72 years) at the time of diagnosis. Ten (56%) of 18 patients had hypertension. Twelve patients had unilateral optic neuropathy, whereas 6 patients had bilateral optic neuropathy. One patient presented with subacute superior orbital fissure syndrome due to mass effect of a dolichoectatic carotid artery. Another patient had oculomotor nerve palsy with signs of aberrant regeneration due to intracavernous mass effect of a dolichoectatic carotid artery. One patient had a bitemporal hemianopia associated with bilateral compression of the immediate prechiasmatic optic nerves by dolichoectatic carotid arteries. The predominant pattern of visual field loss in most patients reflected nerve fiber bundle injury. A central scotoma or absolute central visual field loss was noted in only 6 (25%) of 24 affected eyes. Most patients demonstrated saucerlike excavation of the optic disc. Progression of visual acuity loss occurred at a relatively slow rate. Conclusions Although uncommon, intracranial compression of the optic nerve by the carotid artery should be considered in a patient with unexplained or progressive unilateral or bilateral optic neuropathy. This entity can be diagnosed using clinical skills to exclude more common causes of optic nerve injury and coronal-oriented MRI to confirm anatomic compression of the symptomatic optic nerve. Although many affected patients have excavation of the optic disc and nerve fiber bundle visual field defects, most have additional signs atypical for glaucoma, minimizing the potential for diagnostic confusion between the two disorders.

This article was published in Ophthalmology and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology

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