Pulsatile versus non-pulsatile tinnitus in idiopathic intracranial hypertension

Acta Neurochirurgica (2018) 160:2025–2029

Tinnitus is a symptom commonly associated with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) that can have a profound effect on quality of life. We aim to determine tinnitus symptom response after dural venous sinus stenting (DVSS) or CSF diversion with a shunt, in patients with both pulsatile (PT) and non-pulsatile tinnitus (NPT).

Methods: Single-centre cohort of IIH patients (2006–2016) who underwent 24-h ICP monitoring (ICPM). An un-paired t test compared ICP and pulse amplitude (PA) values in IIH patients with PT vs. NPT.

Results: We identified 59 patients with IIH (56 F:3 M), mean age 32.5 ± 9.49 years, 14 of whom suffered from tinnitus. Of these 14, seven reported PT and seven reported NPT. Patients with tinnitus had a mean 24-h ICP and PA of 9.09 ± 5.25 mmHg and 6.05 ± 1.07 mmHg respectively. All 7 patients with PT showed symptom improvement or resolution after DVSS (n = 4), secondary DVSS (n=2) or shunting (n = 1). In contrast, of the 7 with NPT, only 1 improved post intervention (DVSS), despite 2 patients having shunts and 5 having DVSS.

Conclusions: NPT and PT were equally as common in our group of IIH patients. DVSS appears to be an effective management option for IIH patients with a clear history of pulsatile tinnitus. However, non-pulsatile tinnitus was more persistent and did not respond well to either DVSS or CSF diversion.