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A patient with papilloedema
  1. Jonathan Cleaver1,
  2. Gurjit Chohan1,
  3. Richard James2,
  4. Nicola Giffin1
  1. 1 Neurology, Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust, Bath, UK
  2. 2 Neuroradiology, Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust, Bath, UK
  1. Correspondence to Nicola Giffin, Neurology, Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust, Bath, UK, BA13NG;Nicola.giffin{at}

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A 45-year-old Jordanian man had 2 weeks of gradual onset headache, neck stiffness and loss of vision. The headache was occipital with pulsatile tinnitus and exacerbated by coughing, sneezing and bending forwards. Two weeks before the headache onset, he had developed mildly painful ulcers in his mouth but not elsewhere.

There had been no prodromal features, rashes, tick/animal bites and no history in the previous year of foreign travel or of risky sexual behaviour, and no connective tissue or ‘B’ symptoms. He had lived in the UK for over a decade and rarely visited Jordan.

He had experienced weekly tension-type headaches for years, and 26 years before, he developed an unprovoked deep vein thrombosis. His regular medications included amitriptyline, mebeverine, lansoprazole and ranitidine, but he took no antibiotics and no over-the-counter analgesia, vitamins or supplements.

On examination, there were no mouth or genital ulcers. His visual acuity, colour vision and eye movements were normal but detailed ophthalmological assessment identified bilateral disc swelling with an enlarged blind spot; optical coherence tomography showed a thickened retinal nerve fibre layer, greater on the right (figure 1). The remaining neurological examination, vital signs and routine blood tests were normal. CT scan of head showed bilateral optic nerve tortuosity and an empty sella, suggesting intracranial hypertension (ICH).

Figure 1

Retinal imaging (right eye). (A) 30° infrared reflectance confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy image of the right eye (Heidelberg SPECTRALIS, Heidelberg Engineering, Germany). Red circle encasing blurred optic disc margins; red arrow heads pointing at obscured blood vessels; black circle encasing the macula. (B) Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) showing a thickened peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer or RNFL (red shading). (C) Graph depicting patient’s RNFL thickness, a marker of papilloedema severity (black line) compared with normative reference range for peripapillary RNFL thickness (green shading; green line=mean). The right eye exhibited …

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  • Contributors JC, GC and NJG contributed to the manuscript development, rationale and patient management. JC and GC created the first draft. NJG and RJ revised the manuscript. JC and NJG contributed to the final manuscript revision. RJ contributed to manuscript images and descriptions.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial, or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

  • Patient consent for publication Consent obtained directly from patient(s).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Nick Davies, London, UK.

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