New guidelines aim to improve diagnosis and treatment of brain pressure condition

It is envisaged that the new guidelines, published in Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, will revolutionise the treatment of IIH.

Experts led by the University of Birmingham have produced the first internationally collaborative guidelines aimed at improving the treatment and diagnosis of a rare condition which causes devastating high brain pressure.

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension - also known as IIH - is caused by high pressure in the brain with consequences from blindness to incapacitating daily long term headaches.

It mainly affects obese women in their 20s and 30s. Once regarded as rare, the disease incidence is now on the rise in line with the global rise in obesity. There are very limited treatment options and practices vary widely around the UK and internationally and, up until now, there have been no previous guidelines for the management of the condition.

Now new guidelines have been created by a group of specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, neuro-radiology, ophthalmology and neuroradiology, who have had expertise in managing IIH. The patient charity IIHUK also had an active role in contributing to the guideline development.

The team envisage that the new guidelines, published in Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, will revolutionise the treatment of the condition.

Extensive research was carried out to enable the creation of the guidelines, including a survey of consultants who investigate and manage IIH regularly, as well as a comprehensive systemic literature review. Sufferers of the condition were also heavily involved in the process.

The guidelines were also reviewed prior to publication by a range of professional bodies namely the Association of British Neurologists (ABN), the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS), the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) and the British Association for the Study of Headache (BASH). 

Senior and corresponding author Dr Alex Sinclair, of the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, said: “This guideline will have significant impact on patient care internationally. It is a vital step to standardise and ensure safe, high quality care for all patients.”

Lead author Susan Mollan, also of the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, adds: “The guideline has highlighted multiple areas of uncertainty in the management of IIH. They represent key areas for future research. As further research emerges the guidelines will be updated.”

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